Even the most organised of roadtrippers can have their plans fall into disarray. Unfortunately this happened during this year’s Louisiana roadtrip as we arrived at stop 6, the city of Alexandria. We found a great cafe to fuel up on caffeine and wifi (thanks Tamp & Grind). I googled all the places we wanted to visit – like the Children’s Museum and Museum of Art. Unfortunately they were all closed on a Monday! Then my husband started to feel feverish and we realised we had to get straight to our hotel. He then spent the rest of the day passed out with a virus.
Luckily we didn’t have anywhere we needed to be and could afford to spend 24 hours doing very little (thank goodness for a hotel pool and neighbouring shopping mall!). However, it did make me realise you can’t always account for everything to run smoothly on your trip. But you can follow these tips to ensure a smoother sail on your road trip!
- If you are planning to be in a big city, weigh up whether you actually need car hire or can delay it until you head off on the road. We didn’t hire a car for the first few days in New Orleans and saved a ton of money on car hire and hotel parking.
- Pay extra for a sat nav (or bring your own from home). We also pay extra for Sirius radio.
- Reconfirm your child car seats with the car hire company a week AND a day in advance. If you aren’t comfortable with using a rental agency’s car seats, bring your own. For infants this is slightly easier as you can have a stroller with an infant seat attachment. For older kids you might want to look into something like the Sit’n’Stroll. If you bring your own car seats, you could also use these on the plane (if your child has their own seat) although check in advance that they are compatible with the airline.
- Always keep an eye on the fuel guage. We have had a few occasions where my husband has tried to drive in neutral to conserve any last remaining gas before we found a gas station!
- Stock up the car with water and snacks. This is easily done in the US, we love heading to Walmart, Target and Whole Foods.
- Keep your kids comfortable in the back with travel pillows and blankets. A towel doubles up as a great blanket. We use a super soft micro fibre one which drives quickly and is easy to pack.
- Don’t leave your valuables in the car. If you are traveling with your luggage in the trunk, take out all your passports, electronics etc with you.
- Ask locals for traffic advice
- Buy plenty of activities for your kids to play with in the car. We try to avoid using the iPad where possible otherwise they would demand it at all hours of the day. Instead we bring plenty of books, cuddly toys, colouring stickers, aquadoodle, toys, mini figurines (Frozen ones worked out well last year).
- Allow plenty of time to return the hire car at the airport. Particularly if the car hire office is a long way from the airport!
- Check the opening hours of all the attractions in advance. We arrived in Alexandria only to find out everything was closed on a Monday. This was a shame as we had only intended to be in Alexandria for one day.
- Plan your day in advance and factor in the weather. Play to your crowd – if you’re traveling with young kids then remember they have a short attention span and aren’t necessarily going to enjoy traipsing around tourist attractions. Wherever you travel there are always websites/blogs recommending suitable activities by age.
- Always stop off at tourist information. Here you can pick up maps and leaflets, many containing discount codes.
- Certain days of the week mean free admission to attractions. Well worth checking these out.
- Pack a decent medical kit! Don’t rely on having to scramble around to find a local pharmacy that’s open.
- Mix it up with your accommodation. On our Louisiana roadtrip we stayed in hotels, motels and airbnb rentals. What I love about airbnb, is the chance to have a living area and kitchen to chill out in, especially needed if you’ve been stuck in the car all day.
- Get in the groove of what you are packing and unpacking. We certainly left a few items in our first hotel! Also, you might want to consider leaving your large suitcases in the trunk and packing a small bag to take into places where you are only staying a night. Remember to bring your valuables with you!
More roadtrip travel tips