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Dad is Driving! A Simple Checklist for First-Time Dads Going on a Road Trip

Every family has its own cherished traditions, and one of the classics is the good old family road trip. It’s the time-tested way to bond, explore, and create lasting memories. Whether you’re a seasoned road warrior or a newbie to the world of family adventures on wheels, one role often takes centre stage — Dad’s the driver. 

Being behind the wheel can be exciting and challenging, especially when you have little ones in tow. To help make your journey smoother and more enjoyable, here’s a simple checklist to ensure everything is in order:

Vehicle Maintenance

Before embarking on your adventure, ensuring your vehicle is in tip-top shape is crucial. Whether you’re a tuner or a regular driver, always check the oil, tyres, brakes, and all fluid levels. A well-maintained car minimises the risk of unexpected breakdowns and provides a smoother, more fuel-efficient ride.

Comfortable Seating

Ensure your child’s car or booster seat is properly installed and adjusted for size and age. A comfortable child is more likely to stay content during the journey. Thankfully, many car seats for kids are available online. You can have it delivered to Sydney, Hong Kong, New York, or wherever you are, for that matter.

Maps and Navigation

Even in today’s digital age, it’s wise to have a paper map or road atlas as a backup. GPS and navigation apps are fantastic tools, but they sometimes fail or lose signal in remote areas. Having a physical map can be a lifesaver.

Snacks and Refreshments

Hungry kids can quickly turn a pleasant drive into a chaotic one. Pack various snacks and drinks to keep the hunger pangs at bay. To balance the occasional treats, include healthy options like sliced fruits, nuts, and water.

Garbage Bags

Keep your vehicle clean and organized by bringing along some garbage bags. Encourage kids to dispose of their trash properly. Being a litterbug can get you in trouble with law enforcement and can have you paying hefty fines.


A bored child is a recipe for restlessness. Prepare a selection of entertainment options such as audiobooks, music playlists, and favorite movies on a portable device. Don’t forget to bring chargers and headphones for everyone.

Travel Games and Activities

If you’re more old school, you can pack board games, card games, or puzzle books that the family can enjoy during downtime at rest stops or in the evening at your destination as an alternative. These activities are as fun as any game or app you’ll have on your smartphone.

Travel Documents

Ensure you have all necessary travel documents, including identification, driver’s license, vehicle registration, and insurance information. If you’re bringing pets along, you should also ensure they’re fully vaccinated and have complete papers as well. 

Frequent Breaks

Plan regular pit stops to stretch legs, use restrooms, and allow kids to run around. These breaks can help prevent restlessness and reduce the “Are we there yet?” questions. 

Your breaks can be exciting too. A stopover at an interesting museum, a quick trip to an arcade along the way, trying a new restaurant, and so many more stopovers make breaks even more fun for everyone.

Essentials Bag

Pack a bag with essentials like first-aid supplies, tissues, wet wipes, and any medications your child might need. It’s always better to be prepared for unexpected situations. There have been many times when a simple tummy ache would be enough reason to go back home when it could’ve just been relieved by medication.

Blankets and Pillows

Comfort is key for a peaceful road trip. A car might not be the comfiest place to rest or nap, but little additions such as blankets and pillows can provide added coziness during naps or relaxation. 

Weather-Appropriate Clothing

You’ve planned all week and finally arrive at your destination only to discover that bad weather has settled in. To avoid this from spoiling the whole trip, make sure to check weather forecasts ahead of time. It would also help to pack accordingly. Layered clothing can be a good choice as it allows you to adapt to changing weather conditions.

Patience and Flexibility

Last but not least, remember to pack plenty of patience and flexibility. Road trips with kids can be unpredictable, and it’s essential to stay calm and adapt to unexpected situations. And also, it’s not the kids you should be worried about. Sometimes, your partner riding in shotgun can also get fussy, so keeping tempers down is best and not spoiling the whole road trip.


The first road trip should be a memorable adventure for the whole family. By following this checklist and being well-prepared, you can minimize stress and focus on creating special moments together. So, buckle up, hit the road, and prepare for a journey filled with laughter, bonding, and the excitement of new discoveries. 

After all, it’s not just about the destination but the experiences shared along the way. Happy travels!

Jeff Campbell