On a family road trip, the word meltdown can mean two different things. Your kids having tantrums and having meltdowns because of hunger and being stuck too long in their seats. Or your vehicle having a meltdown from summer’s sweltering heat.
To avoid both, here is a family-friendly guide to a fun and successful summer road trip:
Beat-the-heat tips for your vehicle
Engine overheating can happen anytime of the year but it is more likely to occur during summer days. It may occur because of a leaky cooling system, bad thermostat, failed water pump or blocked radiator.
The first thing to do before you leave for the open road is to have your vehicle checked by a professional mechanic. Have the oil change, check the hoses and make sure there is no leakage or corrosion, and fill up the coolant system with antifreeze/coolant.
According to YourMechanic.com, overheating is when the temperature of the engine climbs to a point where mechanical damage can occur. A 240 degrees Fahrenheit is enough to cause concern. You’ll see signs like steam coming from the engine area, a temperature gauge spiking to the red zone or engine warning lights (often shaped like a thermometer).
Here’s how to be prepared:
1. Keep one spare gallon of coolant and one gallon of distilled water in the trunk.
2. Watch the temperature gauge.
3. If the gauge rises, find a safe spot and pull over, turn the engine off, and let all passengers out in a safe place.
4. Open the car’s hood but don’t take off the radiator cap, refill coolant after engine cools down and check for leaks and blockages.
Plan the pit stops
We all know kids can’t sit still for a long period of time, same for adults. Sitting too long in one position and the lack of movement for hours will result in kids being fidgety and restless, in other words having a meltdown.
Plan your pit stops and keep everyone happy. We suggest using Travelmath’s Stopping Points Calculator. Here’s an example:
It takes about seven hours and 53 minutes to drive from San Antonio to New Orleans. You can plan to have two pit stops. And the suggested pit stops from the Stopping Points Calculator shows stopping point #1 in Houston after driving about 200 miles and stopping point #2 in Lafayette, Louisiana after driving about 220 miles.
It would be better if the pit stops you choose have parks, playgrounds or a local attraction. After all, road trips are also about the journey and the memories you make along the way.
Strategize driving time
Its best to stick to your kids’ sleep and meal routine even when you are on a road trip. If driving at night, dress them up in their usual pajamas and bring along their comforting bedtime toy, pillow or blanket.
Another option is to drive in the morning when there’s plenty of sunshine and kids are awake and happy. They can look out the window and play “I spy” or a license plate game.
The good news is you don’t have to worry about overweight luggage or liquid being confiscated when on road trips. You can practically bring everything you need including lots of games, art supplies, food and drinks.
Keep the necessities like wipes, diapers, food items, drinks, games, toys, including sleep inducing items in the car. While the rest can stay in the trunk.
Family road trips are also the best time to reward kids with new toys and special treats. It’s a way to build memories and make your kids feel special.
Do you have a favorite thing to do during a family road trip? Please share.