Leave plenty of time for important drives. We once had a nail biting crawl to Atlanta airport following severe storms on the road. We made our flight by a whisker!
Find out how far away the car hire is from the airport and factor this in to your driving time.
If you’re on the road with your main suitcases in the boot, keep the valuables easy to hand in one backpack. This way you can take it with you when you stop for meals, attractions etc. If you open the boot up and people see you rummaging around in your suitcase, you may attract unwanted attention.
Pack a spare big bag for shopping
Don’t overpack. You can always buy items at your destination. In fact I love going to foreign supermarkets (particularly Walmart in the US as it’s so much cheaper than Singapore!). We make a big thing of buying car activities at our destination. That way the kids can choose some books and toys for the car and we can aim for a few minutes of not moaning.
If you hire a car with a sat nav and are reliant for that on navigation, it’s still worth having a map to hand. I’ve been in areas with weak satellite signal and also had instances where the sat nav has broken.
Regarding the car sat nav, it may even be cheaper to get an unlimited data package on your phone and use Google Maps/Waze. In which case purchase a phone holder in advance from Amazon.
Have all the addresses e.g. hotel printed somewhere so you can easily input into the Sat Nav/Google maps.
Bring spare charging wires to leave in car
Load up your phone with podcasts and music. Although we do love checking out the local radio stations. There are some nice family podcasts e.g. But Why and Eleanor Amplified
Check your car seat needs. Do you really need to bring a car seat with you? Or will you pay to rent one with your car. If you pack one, don’t forget how much room it will take up on the return leg. We use a Trunki Boostapak and pack a booster seat.
Pack sunglasses in your hand luggage so you can easily access for the moment you’ve picked up car from airport.
Join Premium hire car clubs e.g. Hertz Gold. They are free and entitle you to skip the queue!
Before you exit the car, check ALL seat pockets
If you’re stopping for one night, prepare an overnight bag in advance. This will enable you to leave the big suitcases in the car and not keep lugging them in and out each time.
Is anyone in the family car sick? Buy seasickness bands and ginger sweets so you’re not plagued by a rally cry if ‘I’m going to be sick!’ Ditto have sick bags in the back seat just in case.
Have a rough idea of what you plan to do each day so you can factor in opening hours. The same goes for restaurants too. It’s so easy to make restaurant reservations online it’s also worth doing this to avoid queues.
Consider whether you really need to hire a car for the first few days. It’s better not to drive after you’ve got off a longhaul flight. You can always take a taxi and then pick up a hire car closer to your hotel. You’ll also save money on car hire and extortionate city parking (depending on where you’ve landed).
Load up on water and snacks to keep in the boot. Don’t let the kids have sticky sweets as these will end up slimed to the backs of chairs.
Hi I’m Nicola and I have always loved to travel. Having kids hasn’t stopped me, in fact it’s my mission to turn them into mini jetsetters! Please join me on my quest to discover all things family travel. From what equipment to pack to trip ideas, Jetlag & Mayhem has got it covered.