'Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst' is a good life motto that can apply to many things. As a parent, I've found this to be an especially important phrase. I mean, what if the kid has a diaper blowout and needs a change of clothes? Or worse - your child gets a scrape on a dirty playground and you need a bandage and antiseptic wipes. You hope these things never happen, but they often do (especially when you find yourself unprepared, right?)
The same is true with family travel. No one wants to have a tire blowout or airport detention, so we take steps to ensure our safety and sanity as we step out to explore this great big world. My family is no stranger to the unexpected when it comes to our family travel adventures, so I thought it would be wise to share some of the ways that we prepare for these little moments. Enjoy -- and add your tips below!
Tips To Prepare For The Unexpected In Family Travel
- Pack strategically. You don't have to bring along everything from your bathroom cabinet, but it's a good idea to always have a small first-aid kit with the basics, like bandages, antiseptic wipes, and Tylenol. If you're traveling to a city, you can get by with just these basics and then stop by a pharmacy or convenience store for other items, as needed. I've had to purchase a thermometer and Children's Motrin for an unexpected illness that hit my daughter on a vacation, but otherwise, we have not needed every.single.thing from the bathroom cabinet to survive our trips.
- If you are traveling by car, make sure to have a spare tire and battery cables handy. You may need them (we had to change a tire on a recent drive after a blowout in South Carolina, and thankfully, we were prepared!)
- If you travel by plane, have all of your documents in one place that is easy to access. I always pack my family's documents, confirmation numbers, and identification in one pouch and keep it next to my bag of liquids. That way, I can just pull each bag out quickly.
- Keep a small bag with a change of clothes, water bottles, and first-aid kit with you while you travel. If you travel by car, keep it separate from your other luggage so that you can grab it easily. If you travel by plane, try to include some of these items in your carry-on bag. If you are traveling with a small child, check out my list of travel essentials.
- I cannot stress this enough, but it's a small step that anyone can take to ensure a smooth road trip: Get your car serviced by a reputable business a day or two before your trip. A couple years ago, my husband and I were traveling to stay in a cabin with some friends. We had just had our car serviced by some random place a few hours prior to embarking on this small trip. The mechanics actually messed up our car, and it died on the side of the interstate. Needless to say, we did not make it to the cabin. We did not get a refund of the money that we contributed to the cabin trip. We had to pay for a tow truck to pick up our vehicle. And we had to pay another automotive repair shop to fix our Volkswagen. Get your car serviced a day or two before your trip, people!
- Bring back-up phone chargers, and make sure all back-up batteries are charged. If your car breaks down or you find yourself in an emergency situation, it's important to have the ability to communicate.
- Even in the days of GPS apps or devices, a simple paper road map can save you. I have been worked over too many times by Google Maps sending me the wrong way or the long way. Plus, if you get into a zone with limited signal, you may end up lost. I will never travel without a paper map ever again.
- Use common sense. Put away all valuables, hide electronic cables. Check out these family travel safety tips that I learned from a quick smash-and-grab situation that happened to my family on a media trip to Florida.