Have a road trip scavenger hunt – Road trip tip

Planning a family road trip? To avoid hours of boredom, plan a “scenic scavenger hunt.”

It’s easy. Just write down a list of 100 things you might see along the way, like landmarks, buses or bridges. The first person to complete the list wins.

For preschool kids, substitute magazine photos and trim the list to twenty familiar objects. For older kids, include a challenge: require them to provide one additional fact about each item they find.

Have fun. And by the time you reach the end of the road, you won’t be at the end of your rope.

Lose the luggage, get a ruck sack – Airplane tip

Now that most airlines charge to check your bags, more people are opting to carry their luggage onto planes. However, not much fits in your typical carry-on. To maximize your carry-on capacity and still fit your bag in the overhead compartment, take a tip from the U.S. Army. Trade your rolling luggage for an army surplus Ruck Sack.

A Ruck Sack offers plenty of pockets and lots of room for your belongings. They’re also durable and easy to sling across your shoulders. Look for a pack with an internal back frame to better support the load.

Laminate maps and printed directions – Road trip tip

Passengers eat, drink, and frequently move in and out of the car during a road trip. A paper map or set of printed directions easily gets shoved into a seat during a stop, or worse yet, ruined if food or drink is spilled on it. Upon arrival, directions and maps are even more likely to get misplaced or damaged. To keep maps and directions safe during the trip, laminate them.

For around $30, a home laminating machine will seal standard letter size pages. Copy and print stores have the capability to laminate larger maps for a minimal fee. Alternatively, you can use contact paper to cover paper maps.

Pro tip: you can draw your route on a laminated map and easily wipe the mark off, if you change your mind.

Pack for easy access – Packing tip

When packing for a long trip, it’s essential to pack items for easy access. You don’t want to rummage through your luggage each time you need something.

Placing items that will be least used — or used last — at the bottom of your suitcase or bag will help eliminate “bag rummage.” Think of the order in which you’ll use items and pack accordingly. Items used frequently or that will be used the soonest should be packed near the top.

When packing small items, pack them in containers inside luggage so they don’t end up at the bottom of your bag.

[Ed’s not: this is useful for carry-on luggage, as well. You don’t want to be digging through your day bag trying to find a pen to fill out the immigration card.]

Buy stamps – Souvenir tip

If you’re traveling abroad on a tight budget with absolutely no extra room in your suitcase for a souvenir, then buy a stamp. Even the lowest denomination stamp of any country is colorful, cheap, and easy to find.

When you get home, mount the stamp in the middle of a piece of poster board, write the details of your trip on the back of the poster board, and put in an inexpensive frame. You’ll have a decorator look on a backpacker’s budget.