Road Trip! Remember the days when the whole family piled into the station wagon for a summer road trip with a few bags, a cooler and some mad libs? There were sing alongs, license plate games and quality family time. Today, that simple life is challenging with all of the electronic distractions we have, but with some packing knowledge and creativity, you can still create those memories for you and your kids, tech-free.
Our digital world can help or hinder the security of your home while you are away. Home burglaries rise in July and August due to summer vacations. Take simple steps to secure your home before hitting the gas. If you use some tech, you can actually protect your home better than ever before. There are also some good old fashion ways to secure your house, giving you peace of mind while you are on the open road.
So before you hit the road this summer, follow these two check lists for locking up and packing up to keep your home safe, the car clutter-free, wire-free and the kids happy!
Secure Doors – Locks are not enough to keep a determined thief out. Ask your local hardware store about a strike plate lock. The strike plate protects your door from forced entry. And, don’t forget about sliding doors, they are the most vulnerable. So while you are at the hardware store ask them about a lock pin for your sliding door and place wooden dowels in the tracks. These three pieces of door hardware will frustrate a thief and likely cause them to give-up.
Install Timers – A dark house is a target. Don’t just flip a switch when you head out the door and leave it on the entire time. Place your outdoor lights and a few indoor lamps on timers. This way you will be green and fool potential burglars by setting them to a schedule. Put the timers on a few days before you leave to make sure your lights are going on and off correctly and mimic your regular routine.
Outdoor Lights – Install motion detectors on your outdoor lights. Illuminating a would be thief as they enter your yard is a great way to scare them off.
Refrain from Social Media – In our Facebook world, every vacation moment is shared. While it is tempting to share your fun and latest location with friends, you are also letting a whole lot of people know that you are not home. Save the pics and post them when you get home.
Smart Devices – Consider purchasing a home management system with a camera that detects movement in your home. These devices will send you alerts when there is a presence in or around your home. You can also hire a home security monitoring service, make sure they come highly recommended.
Hire a House Sitter – Have a neighbor, family, friend or babysitter stay at your home or keep an eye on it for you. There are also companies that offer house sitting services. For example, LuxxeLife, a full-service estate management provider, will watch over your home and make sure it doesn’t get into any trouble while you’re gone. This is a great way to ensure complete home security, especially if you are taking a longer road trip.
Lawn Care – An unruly lawn is a giveaway. Have a neighborhood kid or landscaper mow your lawn while you are away.
Hidden Keys – This one may seem obvious, but can often be forgotten. Now is the time to remove any hidden keys!
Mail: Make sure you’ve put a vacation stop on mail and newspapers or have someone picking them up daily. A pile of mail is another giveaway.
Pets: Never leave pets unattended. Make sure they are safely boarded or hire a pet sitter.
Organized Packing 101
Plan: Think about your itinerary and pack according to your stops. For instance, pack one suitcase with the family’s clothing for your stop to hike the Grand Canyon and another suitcase for the wine tasting and restaurant tour in Sonoma. This will make unpacking and re-packing simplified as well as finding different weather and activity clothing a cinch.
Color Code: Keep bags and suitcases different colors so that they are easily identifiable or add bright stickers or yarn to the handles.
Involve the Kids: Encourage your kids to pack themselves so that they are involved in the planning of the trip. They can have their own suitcase or backpack that is their domain.
Be An Engineer: When loading up the car, think about when you will need to access to each bag along the trip. Make sure the first stop items are accessible first and so on. Next, place bigger items on the bottom and smaller items on top.
Don’t be afraid to turn things up side down, or on their sides, to fit better.
Essential Extras: Pack one backpack that stays well hidden in the car. Include your first-aid kit, camera, tickets, etc. And, bring one big collapsible duffle bag to for dirty laundry..
We all know the key to a successful family road trip is keeping the kids happy in the car. Instead of relying on the devices and streaming movies, here are some helpful tips to focus on your surroundings to make the trip a memorable one.
Gift It: Wrap items like car games, deck of cards, sticker books, puzzle books, reading books, crayons, etc. as presents—try reusable bags to be eco-friendly. When you make stops along your route place the presents on the kids’ seats. When they come back to the car they will have an exciting gift to unwrap and play with! Bring extra backpacks to place the toys in once they are unwrapped.
Map It: Before you head out, sit down with your children with a map. You remember maps, right? Remember? AAA has them. Have your kids help you plan the trip out and then have them follow the map as you make your way to your destination. Do some research on each of the places you’ll be passing along the way. Print out a fact sheet for points of interest and use it to create a trivia game.
Happy Tummies: Hunger free kids are happy kids! Bring healthy snacks such as grapes, apples, carrots and string cheese. Include a loaf of bread, jar of peanut butter/almond butter and jelly, as well as treats like snack size packs of crackers and cookies. Avoid juice boxes as they tend to explode. Instead pack bottles of water and glass juice bottles that you can recycle at rest stops. Pack these items with plastic utensils and napkins in clear plastic bags in a cooler. Use blue ice – it is thinner and will easily fit into the mini-freezer in the hotel room.
Don’t Leave Home Without…
In addition to your luggage, the following items will come in handy during your road trip to keep everyone safe and happy.
Paper towels and window cleaner
Extra snack bags
Cell Phone Charger (yes, still bring the cells for emergencies and confirming reservations)
Reservation confirmations for flights, rental cars, camp sites and hotels
Now gas up (or plug in that electric car – be sure to know where the charging stations are!) and head down memory lane! by Laura McHolm is an organizational, moving & storage expert and co-founder of NorthStar Moving Company. NorthStar Moving Company is an award winning, “A+” rated company, which specializes in providing eco-luxury moving and storage services. www.northstarmoving.com