Those that say you can’t take it with you never saw a car packed for a vacation trip. ~Author Unknown

Summer – it’s the time for rest, relaxation, and the family vacation. It doesn’t matter whether you are traveling to the summer cottage, taking a cross-country road trip, or having a fun staycation at home, you’ll want your vacation time to be a stress-free as possible.

Planning ahead gives you an advantage when it comes to creating a stress-free vacation. Here are a few tips for ensuring that your summer vacation gets remembered for all the right reasons.

Pack ahead of time

Before you start packing, check the weather for your vacation destination. It’s much easier to make decisions on what to take if you know what the weather will be like.

Depending on your destination, you may add specialty items to your list. For example, if you’re heading into the mountains you’ll want to make sure your hiking boots are on the list. A good rule of thumb is to think about what you would need for a day and go from there. Avoid the temptation to over pack — it’s easy to get carried away.

If you find yourself lacking room for everything, you can roll your clothes to fit more items in your suitcase. You can also visit your nearest dollar store to get travel-size containers. If you know where you are going to be staying, check out what amenities your hotel has in advance so you don’t bring extras. Most hotels have basic toiletries and a hairdryer.

Use a notebook with folders to keep track of all you travel plans and packing lists. Better yet, use a travel app to keep track of all of your plans from hotels to restaurant reservations. There are also packing apps to make sure you have everything you need.

Must-pack items include:

• Sunscreen. Nothing can put a damper on a vacation like having bad sunburn.
• Camera with battery charger.
• Cell-phone chargers.
• Extra bags for souvenirs.
• Games and activities for the kids.
• Travel wipes and tissues for the car.
• Small plastic grocery bags for easy trash disposal.

Get the car ready

Nothing says vacation stress like having your car break down miles away from home. Before leaving, make sure the oil is changed and your tires are filled to the proper air pressure. Having your mechanic give your vehicle a once-over before you head out  prevents breakdowns on the road, but it can also alleviate the stress of worrying whether or not you’ll make it to your destination safely. An added bonus is that a well-running car can save on gas costs.

Another way to save on gas costs is to use an app like the GasBuddy to find the lowest prices on gas when traveling.

Is your emergency roadside kit is up to date and ready in your trunk? When you’re loading the car, take care to make sure it doesn’t get buried under all your luggage. If something does happen that you need it, you don’t want to have to unload the whole trunk to get at it.

Pack healthy food and drinks

When you’re traveling it is easy to let your diet get out of hand. Buying snacks at the convenience store can be both unhealthy and expensive. One alternative is to pack fruit and other snacks you can easily eat in the car.

Good choices include:
• Nuts
• Cheeses cut into cubes
• Trail mix
• Cut-up veggie sticks

Make sure at least some of the foods you pack don’t require a cooler. Don’t forget to pack lots of water. It’s important to stay hydrated by drinking more water than usual so you don’t get dehydrated in the summer heat.

Relax

You’ve done all the hard work, so now that you’re on vacation… Relax!

Put down your tablets and smart phones, unplug from the world and enjoy your break. Build sandcastles with your kids; dive into the book you’ve been saving to read; listen to some new music while you chill out in the summer sun.

Give your mind, body, and soul the rest they truly need.

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