Our family went on a pretty incredible 7 night 8-day road trip.
We flew into Las Vegas, Nevada, and then rented a minivan to visit several National Parks and other points of interest along the way.
I’m sharing practical tips to help you make the most of your next big road trip.
This article is written in partnership with Kroger. This article contains affiliate links.
Pack a Backpack Cooler as a Carry on for the Plane
For travelers flying to the first destination, a backpack cooler can be really helpful for keeping snacks together in one place before your flight with easy access if you have a layover.
Later in the road trip portion of your trip you can fill the cooler with ice to keep your drinks cold.
If you aren’t flying you can pack a larger cooler.
Pack Extra Phone Cords and a Car Charger
Cell phone cords are vital during a road trip. This is especially true if you are also using your phone for navigation.
Don’t forget to pack your cell phone car charger so that you don’t have to purchase one from the car rental company.
Purchase Snacks Before You Leave For Your Trip
The day before our trip I picked up a bunch of snacks at our local Kroger. I tried to get a mix of healthier options that would help hold off hunger along with a few treats. (Beef jerky, granola, toaster treats, and nuts)
We had to wait to make drink purchases after we arrived in Las Vegas due to TSA restrictions.
Fill Up Before You Drive to Your Next Destination
When we were in Las Vegas, there were several locations for Smith’s Food and Drug grocery stores with a fuel center which is part of the Kroger family of stores.
You can still use your Kroger shopper ID for the fuel points program.
Stock Up on Snacks and Drinks When You Arrive
We typically go out to eat the majority of our vacation but having snacks and drinks in between meals on hand saves us time and extra money.
For this trip it was especially important to remember that we were doing several desert hikes along the way. With that in mind, we had to stock up on drinks in preparation for times when we would not have easy access to water.
We purchased several gallons of water to refill our water bottles and our favorite flavors of Body Armor for extra electrolytes for the big hikes.
Kroger gift cards and Kroger Plus Shopping Cards or ID numbers also work at Smiths for additional savings.
Keep Receipts In One Place
This will save you a lot of time and energy later. We kept all of our receipts in the glove box of the minivan rental. An envelope or a small zippered bag is great to use to keep receipts together inside the glove box.
Keeping receipts in one spot will help you avoid throwing away important receipts with the trash later.
Don’t Forget the Sunscreen
Many vacations can be impacted by bad sunburns due to not applying sunscreen. It’s important to wear sunscreen even if it’s cloudy for long periods of time outdoors, if you have a family member with fair skin this is even more vital.
We bought extra Kroger Brand sunscreen spray once we arrived because the spray type is way more convenient.
The lotion type of sunscreen is also good if you have someone in your family with skin that is sensitive to the sun and needs more coverage.
Pack Drinks and Snacks on Your Hikes
Drinks and snacks were especially important during our hike at The Narrows. It’s important to stay hydrated and full of energy on longer hikes.
Make a Road Trip Playlist
Music can set the tone of your drive. Try to create a playlist where each family member gives input on the song selections.
Remove Trash From Your Vehicle Every Time You Stop
This little habit can help prevent unnecessary spills and make it quicker to clean out the rental vehicle before you return it. It can also help you avoid finding forgotten leftovers days later.
The easiest time to do a quick evaluation of the trash in your vehicle is while you are filling up your gas tank.
Make Everyone Go to the Bathroom When You Stop to Eat or Fuel Up
Nothing is more frustrating than having to make unnecessary stops. Of course accidents happen but having everyone go to the bathroom when you stop can help reduce your odds for additional bathroom breaks along the way.
Ask Questions in the Car
Make use of the long drive with road trip conversation questions.
You can learn a lot about each other and spend quality time learning what each person’s highlight of the day was.
Allow Time for Spontaneous Stops
The Hoover Dam wasn’t on our original itinerary but we decided to add it on our way to the Grand Canyon.
We also squeezed in time for fun pictures at Seven Magical Mountains located about 30 minutes from Las Vegas.
Another beautiful spontaneous stop was the five-mile scenic drive along the Kolob Canyons Road on our way from Bryce Canyon to Valley of Fire.
Take as Many Pictures and Video as Possible
You may discover that some of your favorite pictures are “happy accidents.” Like this picture of my family’s shadow while we were looking at the Grand Canyon during sunset.
I try to remind my boys that they will eventually love looking back on all these pictures from when they were younger in years to come.