Getting the family together for a road trip can be quite an exercise. And between heavy traffic, bored or restless kids and driver fatigue, the process of "getting there" can test anyone's patience.
But some diligent planning - for everything from fuel costs to rest stops - will make the experience enjoyable rather than frustrating.
AAA offers the following advice for families planning their next road trip.
Before You Go
* Take some time to plot your journey from beginning to end. Plan your trip online using www.aaamaps.com for point to point driving directions. If you don't have access to the Internet, contact your nearest local AAA travel office for a custom-made triptik.
* Calculate your gas costs. If you are looking to pinch a penny on fuel, visit www.fuelcostcalculator.com. This site helps motorists forecast the cost of fuel for their trip based on the specific vehicle's make, model and year.
* Give your car a checkup. Have your vehicle inspected by a certified auto technician. To find a AAA Approved Auto Repair facility in your area, visit www.aaa.com.
* Remember, timing is everything. As you plan your trip, make time allowances for traffic jams, road construction and other factors that may reduce your expected speed.
On the Road
* Start fresh. Rather than leaving early after staying up late packing clothes and loading your vehicle, get plenty of rest the night before your trip. Driving drowsy is extremely dangerous and results in many crashes and deaths each year.
* Be safe. Make sure that all passengers are secured properly with safety belts and child safety seats as needed. Choose the proper child safety seats for your children and make sure the seats are properly installed. Up to 90 percent of child safety seats are incorrectly installed.
* Keep your family engaged. If you are traveling with children, they'll need something to keep them busy. Be sure to bring games and books to help them pass the time. Many vehicles now feature on-board DVD players that can help keep children entertained for hours.
* Stop periodically to stretch your legs. Take a break every two hours or every 100 miles, especially if you are traveling with children and pets. To avoid driver fatigue, make arrangements to alternate with other drivers.