Thanks to the rollout of the coronavirus vaccine, more and more people are making travel plans this summer. Vaccinations are well underway nationwide, but it is still wise to take some precautions. For example, for the foreseeable future, it may be best to avoid non-mandatory air travel. Keep your family as safe as possible by choosing to drive instead. Most importantly, make it fun. A family road trip may be just the thing you need to decompress after months of navigating the coronavirus pandemic.

Make your road trip the best possible experience for you and your family. Do that by packing all the essentials. Here is what you will need to make certain your trip will go off without a hitch.

Spare Tire

Pay close attention to what the professionals do. On a racetrack, pit crews will refasten tires or replace existing tires as fast as possible before sending the driver back out for the next lap. Why are tires such a high priority? Race car drivers and pit crews understand that tires are one of the most important safety features on roadsters or race cars, which may amount to as much as 3,400 pounds and need tires durable and hardy enough to support them.

The same holds true for your vehicle. Some SUVs may weigh up to 4,000 pounds, according to Reader’s Digest, and it is just as critical to have quality tires on your family vehicle. Driving with under-inflated tires may risk a blowout or, at a minimum, significantly affect your gas mileage. Be prepared in the event of an emergency. Keep a spare tire or donut in your vehicle at all times.

Extra Key

A big part of parenting is being extra prepared. Locking yourself out of the car is much more common than you might think. The American Automobile Association (AAA) comes to the aid of 4 million people who lock themselves out of their cars every year. Avoid the trouble by keeping a spare key on your person during your road trip.

First Aid Kit

While they are unpleasant to think about, traffic accidents and emergencies are a fact of life. In 2012, 4,700 pedestrians died in traffic accidents. Another 76,000 sustained injuries. Keep your kids safe whether they are in your vehicle, at a rest stop, or at a lookout point on side of the road.

Call 911 in the event of a serious car crash and keep a fully stocked first aid kit inside your vehicle.

UV Shades, Sunscreen, And Sunglasses

“Cars let in harmful ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun,” according to The Skin Cancer Foundation. It is just as important to protect your family from the sun during a long road trip as it is to wear sun protection on the beach. Protect your kids with UV shades on your back windows. Apply sunscreen before long road trips, and encourage children to wear sunglasses.

Battery Pack And Extra Chargers

Plug in a battery pack overnight and it will be ready to wirelessly charge smartphones, tablets, and video game consoles as needed during your road trip. Pack extra charging cables for phones and devices. That way, you will have a spare if one stops working on the road.

While it is best to teach your children not to be overly reliant on their devices and to spend time as a family unplugged, it is also necessary to keep phones charged to use navigational apps, like Google Maps, and to make emergency calls if need be.

Parenting is — first and foremost — about keeping your kids healthy and safe. Choose a road trip for safe family travel this summer, and pack essential items with your children’s well-being in mind.