As temperatures start to cool and leaves begin to change, there's no better time to hit the open road for a view of the country’s towns and scenery in all their seasonal glory. Whether your destination is a city with its crisp autumn energy or a rural oasis of orchards and fiery fall foliage, read on for road trip tips to maximize fun, minimize friction, and keep both the front and back seat happy mile after mile.
Get ready for the long haul
A successful road trip begins well before departure. Trash can pile up when you're in the car, so give your future self a helping hand by starting with a clean vehicle. Get rid of the wrappers hiding in your door, unnecessary receipts in your glove box, and anything else—from empty water bottles to broken sunglasses—that might be strewn across the seats. Now’s also a great time to make sure your car is up-to-date on all its maintenance and that your spare tire is ready to go in case of an emergency.
Be sure to download maps and music, podcasts, or audiobooks before you go, as you never know when you'll lose service on a cross-country adventure. (And downloading them in advance means less data usage on the road!) You'll also want to have some kid-friendly games and movies downloaded to your phone or tablet in order to help keep the backseat occupied. Don't forget about the joys of analog road trip classics like license plate bingo or the alphabet game, though—and never underestimate the power of an impromptu sing-along to your family's favorite songs for raising spirits when the miles get long!
Pack it up
The exact items you need on your trip will depend on your route, destination, and any planned activities along the way. No matter where you're going, though, it's a good idea to make sure everyone has a warm layer along for unexpectedly chilly fall nights. These layers can also double as pillows and blankets when it's time for a nap.
When it comes to packing your car, put the items you won't regularly use in first, like the first aid kit or luggage you won't need until your destination. Then, pack things like snacks and chargers in easily accessible locations to keep from having to entirely repack your car at every stop. You'll want some napkins and wet wipes readily available, too, to clean up any messy faces or spills along the way. Pro tip: Hang a plastic bag from the back of your headrest to serve as a trash can for any food wrappers to make cleanup easy when you stop at a gas station or rest area.
Fuel for the road
Speaking of snacks, packing the right foods—and enough of them!—can go a long way toward keeping everyone happy and satisfied, especially kids who drag their feet when it comes to long car rides. Reserve a special snack just for road trips, like Glutino® animal crackers for zoo-worthy bites, or Angie's® BOOMCHICKAPOP® popcorn for simple salty goodness without the microwave. Or you could go for a road trip classic, like Slim Jim® jerky or Slim Jim meat 'n cheese, or the satisfying crunch of Vlasic® Snack'mms®.
If you'll be getting an early start, prep a batch of Ham, Broccoli and Cheddar Egg Muffins in advance or bring Glutino gluten free breakfast bars for an easy and satisfying breakfast on the road. For more gluten-free snacking, look no further than Glutino pretzels and crackers.
For homemade food you can enjoy on the road, opt for dishes that don't require utensils, like our BBQ Chicken Roll-Ups seasoned with Hunt's® barbecue sauce for a savory and filling snack. For a lighter, zestier meal, try our “easily passed around the car” Mediterranean Chicken Pita Pockets. You can also bring easy snack foods like our No-Bake Chocolate Cranberry Oat Bars for a sweet afternoon treat or our Maple Breakfast Snack Mix for anytime munching. Whatever dishes you choose, store them in storage containers to keep them from getting smooshed in the car, and keep napkins handy for any sticky fingers afterward!
Wondering how to keep food fresh and delicious in the car? Fill a few reusable water bottles three-quarters of the way and freeze them overnight before your trip. Put them in a cooler with your prepared foods to keep them fresh. Once the ice melts, you can use them to keep your family hydrated.
With the car packed, phones fully charged, and seat belts buckled, it's time to relax and enjoy the beauty of the road. Delays, detours, and unexpected mishaps are a part of life, but with the right mindset—and our helpful road trip tips!—you can enjoy every moment of the ups and downs with your family, wherever the road takes you.