8 Tips for Planning the Perfect Summer Road Trip

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 beautiful view of mountains and lake

Let me preface this post with a disclaimer: no road trip is going to be perfect. You’re going to have to roll with the punches, deal with sick kids/dog/spouse or even get to your hotel and have a reservation mix-up. While we try to plan to the best of our ability, there’s always something that goes wrong.

I’ve left my pillow at a hotel in Idaho (more info on that later), lost my daughter’s iPod somewhere in New Mexico and I’ve booked the wrong hotel in the wrong city more than once.

And yet we survived it all.

I haven’t ever written about my road trip tips, but now that I’m heading out on my sponsored road trip with Esurance, I think it’s time that I get around to it!

Raise your hand if you are planning (or contemplating) a summer road trip. I’m pretty sure that a lot of you are, since 9 out of 10 Albertans partake in this vacation ritual.

Esurance commissioned research to find out exactly what we Albertans are up to when we are hitting the road, and let me tell you, I found it fascinating.

First, Albertans are more prepared than most Canadians, with 45% of us getting oil changes done compared to a 35% national average. We are also more prepared for emergencies, with 44% of us making sure our road emergency kits are up to date and fully stocked, compared to only 1 in 3 Canadians overall.  Sixty-seven percent of us plan our route, 66% of us stock up on food and drinks and 47% pack up the car with entertainment such as music, books and movies. Unsurprisingly, our destinations of choice are the mountains and ski-hills, but we also love our lakes.

a view of sea ramp during sunset

We Albertans obviously like to be prepared! However, this next statistic blew my mind, as this is something that my Dad (the head family road tripper that I get my love of travel from) has drilled into my head from day one – only 28% of Albertans indicated that they check their insurance policy to make sure that they are covered for everywhere they intend to travel.

Dudes. This is the most important thing. Right before any road trip, Mike and I review all of our insurance documents, including car insurance and our medical insurance. Always.

Would you like to guess why?

Because right before this last trip, my insurance and registration were nowhere to be found in my car.

That’s right. Right before we headed down to the States last week, I discovered that somehow my insurance and registration were not in my car, however because this is on my road trip checklist, I discovered it in time to get new papers. I don’t know if they were accidentally thrown out or my car ate them, but they were nowhere to be found.

So for my top road trip tips, I’m going to start out with the top four from Esurance themselves, which are   the most important ones, then continue on with four of my own!

  1. Do your research. While you may rely on your GPS, it doesn’t hurt to plan your route in advance. Phones don’t always work in the mountains; we Albertans know that! Plan out your route!
  2. Ensure your car is ready for the long haul. If it hasn’t been in for a maintenance check, consider having it looked at to avoid surprises on the road. Schedule an oil change if you haven’t had one recently. Check all your fluid levels as well.
  3. Keep your car fully stocked. Be sure to pack supplies of bottled water and snacks if you’re setting out on a long journey. Travelling with kids? Pack a variety of entertainment, such as books and toys, and don’t forget chargers and extra batteries.
  4. Be prepared for emergencies. Do you have a complete emergency kit on-hand? Double-check before you set out. Make sure that you have a jack and spare tire as well.
  5. Bring your pillows. This is an old family trick that we learned from the moment we were old enough to grab our own pillows. You can basically sleep on concrete as long as you have your own pillow. You avoid sore necks and shoulders for the driver and passengers, as well as have the comfort of home. Just don’t leave it in Idaho like I did.
  6. Download Podcasts. The world is your oyster when it comes to podcast listening. If you are listening to scary ones like The NoSleep podcast or We’re Alive (excellent horror and zombie ones respectively) then share earphones between the driver and the passenger. We will listen to our podcasts with one ear open to help the kids and keep the scary content to ourselves.
  7. Stop at Grocery Stores for food. As I write this, I am in the car coming home from our road trip to Wisconsin and I’m eating sliced mango that I bought at a grocery store for lunch. I’ve got the laptop balanced on my lap getting my work done and munching on healthy fruit. We learned many, many trips ago to avoid fast food as much as we can and stop at grocery stores instead. The kids eat sliced watermelon and sandwich wraps for lunch instead of nuggets and fries. Win-win for everyone.
  8. Always Have Cash. While the world revolves around technology, it fails us and it actually does quite regularly! We always carry cash on us, enough for a tank of gas in case the debit machines aren’t working OR your card doesn’t’ work. I’ve been places in the States where I’ve filled up a tank of gas, only to find out that the cashiers can’t get my cards to work! Cash is a MUST!

View of Fisherman Wharf

If you didn’t read my last post, I am going to be heading on a road trip sponsored by Esurance starting July 2nd and I’m taking you with me virtually! Pack your virtual suitcases, we’re going on a road trip together!

Make sure to check out my post here for your chance to win a $400 Smart Driver Care Package from Esurance, it’s a fabulous prize!

Happy road tripping everyone!



DISCLOSURE: This post is sponsored by Esurance. All opinions and language are my own.

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Karlynn Johnston

I’m a busy mom of two, wife & cookbook author who loves creating fast, fresh meals for my little family on the Canadian prairies. Karlynn Facts: I'm allergic to broccoli. I've never met a cocktail that I didn't like. I would rather burn down my house than clean it. Most of all, I love helping YOU get dinner ready because there's nothing more important than connecting with our loved ones around the dinner table!

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  1. Mark Wicklund says

    Bring lots of underwear. Lots cuz u just never know

    • The Kitchen Magpie says

      Ok, that’s a valid point LOL!! And socks! Always socks!

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