As we head into spring break and the summer travel season, millions of us will take to the road.

Before you start loading the car, use this extensive packing list to ensure you make the most of every mile and are ready for anything the road throws your way:

Trip budget

Think of what your total budget might be, then segment for the various needs, and consider wants and emergencies you encounter on the trip. These include:

  • Food – Per meal, $10-20 for adults, $5-10 for kids
  • Fuel – Estimate your total trip mileage and how many miles you get per tank. Compare them to see how many times you may need to refill your tank
  • Lodging – Book ahead to find some better deals
  • Entertainment – Plan ahead as best you can, but try not to miss out on some of the fun things you may discover along your tip
  • Emergency stash – If something goes wrong with the car or another unexpected expense comes up, you’ll be glad you had a little extra cash

Prep your vehicle

Even if your vehicle is relatively new, get it serviced before you hit the road. More of a do-it-yourselfer? Here are a few things to check:

  • Brake pads
  • Headlights, brake lights, blinkers
  • Tire health
  • Wiper blades
  • Engine fluid levels
  • Spare tire
  • Insurance
  • Emergency road kit

Prep your home

  • Make sure bills are up to date
  • Stop your mail and newspaper or arrange for its pickup
  • Clean out the refrigerator
  • Leave a set of keys with a trusted neighbor, friend or family member
  • Let the bank know you’ll be traveling to avoid your accounts getting flagged

Packing tips

Try to only include the essentials, plus an extra change of clothes in case of an emergency. If your destination has laundry available, consider packing less and washing more.

  • For days with heavy travel, wear and pack loose, comfortable clothing
  • If you’ve purchased new shoes, consider packing a second pair of well-worn shoes in case the new ones end up hurting your feet
  • Check the weather forecast and be ready for changing conditions

Bits and pieces

Here are a few other road/hotel essentials to bring along:

For the kids

  • Favorite toy(s) and stuffed animal
  • Games
  • Books
  • Electronics and headphones

For the parents

  • Chargers for all the electronics
  • Everybody’s medication
  • Water bottles
  • Non-messy snacks

First-aid kit

  • Adhesive bandages
  • Topical antiseptic
  • Insect repellent
  • O-T-C pain medicine
  • Eye drops
  • Tweezers
  • Sunscreen

Travel hacks

Enjoy these travel tips to help everyone enjoy this road trip just a bit more:

  • Spend more time in fewer places: Don’t ruin the fun trying to see everything in a short time – you’ll save on gas, money and, in some cases, frustration
  • Use a plastic cereal container as a small trash can
  • Make a fun activity tray out of a metal cookie sheet and some magnets – it can also be used as a surface for coloring books, snacks and other car crafts
  • Keep your snacks in a small/medium plastic tackle box
  • If you plan on eating and driving, use a small shower caddie as a lunch basket to help keep your fast food from getting everywhere
  • Invest in a multi-way charger for all your devices
  • Use sticky pads on your dashboard and seat backs to keep your small, important stuff together