There’s nothing like hitting the road for an exciting and educational summer family road trip. Some of our most cherished memories include discovering hidden gems along the drive, setting up camp in the wilderness, or stops at large, outrageous roadside attractions like the Big Apple between Toronto and Kingston, Drumheller’s T-Rex, Victoria’s Pink Fish, or Wawa’s Goose.
As much fun as these trips can be, not planning in advance could have consequences. Don’t wait until you’re on the road to realize you’ve forgotten supplies, you haven’t packed enough, or you chose the same campsite weekend as a large nudist retreat.
So before you go, follow our guide of what to plan for in advance to ensure your family has an exciting, safe, and fun summer vacation on the road.
Depending on how much time you’ve allocated for the trip, start plotting out natural and tourist attractions you may want to visit. Make sure they will be open during the time you intend to stop by. Also see if these destinations have any special activities planned around your travel dates. It might be worth adjusting your schedule by one or two days to accommodate (or avoid) a certain event. Plan a schedule based on your timing, using Google Maps to help approximate how long it will take to reach each destination while taking account of time for visiting, eating, resting, and pit stops. Make sure to leave adequate time for things you may encounter along the way, or places where you wish to spend more time. Also consider the attention spans of children travelling with you. Some need more travel breaks than others.
Before heading out on any trip, you should ensure your vehicle is up to the task. If it’s been a while since your last tune-up or servicing, book an appointment with your mechanic at least a few weeks in advance so you’re not left in a rush to get something fixed. Ensure all fluids (oil, washer fluid, etc.) are checked or filled, if necessary. Also make sure your tires have been inspected and filled to the correct pressure. If you’re planning to venture off busier roads, make sure you have a spare tire and a jack in the car, and that you know how to change a tire in case of emergencies. Better yet, get yourself a roadside assistance plan for peace of mind. Lastly, always have a charged phone battery handy.
There’s nothing worse than getting into a situation that requires a claim without having your up-to-date documentation and insurance inside the glove box. Depending on your destination or route, you may want to check with your agent to make sure you have proper coverage for all destinations you plan to visit, such as different provinces or countries.
Whether it’s for you or the kids, make sure you have any prescription medications or refills you may need during your time away. You might be exposed to more of the great outdoors than usual, so take note of any allergy sensitivities and consider any challenges you may face. Be sure to get proper medical advice or treatment before you go.
Even before you open up those suitcases, start making a list of the clothing your family will need throughout the duration of the trip and consider the types of weather or conditions you might encounter. If you won’t have access to any laundry facilities, pack accordingly or call ahead to any booked accommodations to see if they offer overnight laundry services. Keep in mind that Canadian weather can be unpredictable and conditions can change quickly. Even if blue skies are in the forecast, pack proper rain gear just in case.
With these tips in mind, get out there and explore Canada – and most of all have fun! Tell us where your dream road trip is in the Comments section below.