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Tips for keeping road trips fun

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    Renting an economy car is an option for road trips.

You’ve packed your bags and loaded your family and gear into the car. Now you’re off.

Where to, exactly? Well, that’s negotiable. When you embark on a road trip, all that’s required is a rough idea of where you’re going and how long you’ll stay. The magic is the spontaneity this type of trip affords you.

If you’re preparing for a summer road trip, here are eight rules you should adhere to for maximum fun and adventure:

1. Check for major conventions and events before you leave. Before you embark on a journey with the tentative plan of finding a hotel in a major city, make sure there aren’t any huge events planned. If there are, you could pay out the nose for a room or, worse yet, find that everything is sold out.

2. Make sure your car is in good working order. Or, rent one. Your car might be great for trips to the grocery store, but is it ready to trek thousands of miles over the course of a few weeks? If you’re unsure, take it in for a tuneup or inspection.

Or consider renting an economy car on the cheap. It’s better to spend money for a car (whose wear-and-tear repairs would all be covered by the rental company) than spend money on a tow truck.

3. Pack plenty of snacks and drinks. Long road trips in the middle of nowhere can leave us all crabby, but especially the kids. (Crabby kids make for crabby adults, by the way.) To keep everyone happy, pack the car with snacks and drinks.

4. Stay connected to the web. It’s normal to want to leave your cellphone at home, but we caution against it. You could wind up needing to call for help if you get lost.

5. Bring a paper atlas. If your electronics fail and you get lost, you’ll be glad you did.

6. Part of the fun of road trips is learning how to entertain yourself. Bring a deck of cards. Play license plate poker, a game in which you choose license plates and play your best “poker hand.”

7. Leave some free time in your itinerary. The best part about a road trip is having license to go off the beaten track. For this to work, however, you need some “free time” built into your plans.

8. Get off the freeway. This is a good one: Take surface roads, at least part of the time. Some of the most beautiful towns and sights in the country are far off the beaten path.

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