July 4th Road Trip


Posted by Annie in Family Fun on June 29, 2011

Independence Day!

Happy July 4th!

Are you planning a long road trip over the Fourth of July weekend? Many families will take off for cooler parts this weekend. The motherlode provides a great place to get alone with nature and experience the squirrels chatter and the birds song for a refreshing change of pace.

Let’s face it camping in the great outdoors is a terrific experience for the children and it can be easy on the wallet or as expensive as you wish. Regardless of whether or not you camp, drive an RV, or you are ordering up room service from your 5 start hotel room; planning can make all the difference between having a terrific time and being miserable for the entire weekend.

Have you considered the costs of your trip? If you drive at all, you realize that gas prices aren’t what they used to be and can vary wildly from region to region. Do your homework before you leave home, always calculate lower gas mileage than you expect and be sure to add incidental miles (like trips to the grocery store, the beach or any other planned outtings).

Use caution when using online widgets when checking for gas prices, they are often inaccurate, so don’t let your fluid levels get too low before you start hunting for a station. In some areas they can be few and far between — especially when traveling in the mountains. Last year, for example, Wayne’s Shell here in Twain Harte was closed for months – during the Summer, Fall and Winter months people expecting to find gas when they arrived in Twain Harte were disappointed.

Is your vehicle road worthy?

  1. Check and fill all fluid levels; oil, transmission, brake fluid, window washer solvent (not water, the solvent will clean the bugs off due to night driving). Check your hoses, in the heat of the summer, hoses often crack and break during a long trip.
  2. Check the brake pads, most communities have service stations which offer free brake inspection. Get them looked at by a professional.
  3. Check the tire tread and air pressure. (If you plan to head up into the mountains, pack the snow chains, you could need them this year.)

Be sure to have at least a small financial cushion, even if it’s nothing more than room on a credit card in case your vehicle leaves you stranded unexpectedly.

What to pack?

  1. Sleeping bags or blankets (if camping)
  2. A warm jacket
  3. Two changes of clothing per day (one for cooler morning and evening weather, another set for the warm afternoons).
  4. Two pairs of shoes (sandles, tennis shoes, hiking boots, flip flops, water socks) pick 2 or 3 but always have a spare pair.
  5. Swimming trunks
  6. Sunscreen/Mosquito Repellent
  7. Camera
  8. Cell Phone
  9. Laptop
  10. iPod
  11. Map (be sure to print off a copy just in case the GPS goes out)
  12. Walkie Talkie’s if you have them. They make a great backup in the absence of cell phone service, which is typical of many mountain communities and rural areas.
  13. Prescription Medicine (in their original containers).


Your specific needs will vary depending on personal preferences, medical needs, the age of travelers and more. Create your own list of items to add to this list as you think of them. Be sure to call and stop the newspaper delivery or arrange for someone to pick them up while you are away.

Be sure the house is locked up properly, check the doors and windows. Look around your yard, does it look like the house is abandoned? Set a timer for your lights, have a family friend or neighbor check on things in your absence. Be sure your animals have someone looking after them while you are gone.

If you have a large family, be sure to count the kids at each stop to ensure that no one is left behind. Go ahead and laugh, many parents are reading this sentence nodding in agreement. It’s not that hard to forget one on occasion and it’s one quick way to spoil a vacation.

Travel Safe!


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