Travel Hacks

Van full of stuff for a road trip

If you are planning on traveling a large distance to visit an amusement park, there are some things to keep in mind as you prepare. Let’s make the worries of your trip wash away!

Make a checklist

You don’t want to arrive and realize someone forgot something important. Weather you are traveling by car or plane, it can still be very stressful, especially for newbies of travel. Checklists help prevent important details from being overlooked or forgotten.

(Mike’s notes in italics) Start your checklist days or weeks ahead and keep it near you. Things will come to mind as you visualize what you’ll be doing. It is hard to make a complete list in one sitting. You may find things to omit too! Have you ever returned from a trip and cleaned out your bag to realize that you only used half the stuff you’ve been lugging around?

Weather and clothing

Did you check the weather of where you are going? Most women, including myself, will pack for all seasons. But for the normal people out there, who don’t want to pack absolutely everything, checking the weather forecast will help. It never hurts to prepare for rain with an umbrella or a poncho.

If you are staying at a hotel with laundry machines available, you can pack half the clothes and just refresh the ones you’ve worn partway through.


If you’re going by plane, and this is a more than just a day-trip from home, make a couple checklists and a folder to keep all your important information handy. Review all the tickets. Each person should have a ticket and the departures and arrivals should match your plan. Better to solve a problem now than when your trip has begun.

Since strollers are a huge asset in amusement parks, read-up on your airline’s policy on checking strollers. They are often surprisingly easy to bring and can also help out when moving through the airport.

If traveling by car, you might want to do a pre-trip inspection of the vehicle. Making sure the air pressure is correct in all your tires. There are the four on the ground of course. Don’t forget your spare! Check all fluids. Check your jack, make sure all the parts are there. Get yourself a small emergency road kit with those orange reflective triangles. If you are not sure how to do preventive maintenance, check with your local shop and ask them to do a quick inspection.

Travel entertainment

How are you keeping the youngsters entertained? Young children and teens have a different ideas of “fun”.

I personally enjoy the license plate game. Keep track of how many out-of-state plates you see. You earn bonus points for funny personalized, vanity plates.

The children I know, like I Spy. This game also encourages the children be aware of their surroundings.

Games on a plane can be a little more difficult. Electronics can come in handy, especially if you or someone you are with is afraid of flying or heights.

You can use the travel time for some spontaneous trip planning. Have each person make their “Must Do” list. It helps pump up the kids, and lets you see where their priorities are. If you can printed map of the amusement park, you can plan how you’re going to work through the park.

Travel Snacks

If you are going by car, pack a cooler of drinks. Designate a snack distributor. If your vehicle is packed too tight, then maybe just plan on eating out. If you are taking an infant, it is great to have a bottle warmer that plugs into the vehicle’s cigarette lighter. I have personally used one that took about 15 minutes to warm up.

One snack-related game I’ve used, that is both entertaining, and teaches kids about the opportunity cost of money, is to stop at a large truck-stop or convenience store and give each kid $2-3. Encourage them to spend their money any way they want. They can also combine and share with a sibling, pooling their resources for a better-value item. Or they can just get the enormous soft-drink. Remind them that they may regret that option 30-40 minutes down the road when it has transferred to their bladder.


Unless you plan to buy them at the gate, check to make sure everyone has a park ticket. If you have a special pass, like the Cedar Fair – Platinum Pass, make sure you have each person’s packed.

If you’re planning to buy tickets there, you might save money by looking for discounts online or at stores near the attraction. For example, Kroger is a grocery store with a large presence in Cincinnati. They offer discounted tickets to Kings Island at their customer service counter. There are likely deals like this in businesses near parks and stores in other regions!


Also make sure you have your hotel booked. If you’re staying with friends or family, make sure they are reminded of your arrival. Mobile phones are a great help for this, you can text them with little updates on your progress.

A good place to look for last minute deals on hotels is sometimes they won’t charge you until you get to the hotel.

We’ve found great deals on and

Allow yourself a moment to breathe before leaving your house or your hotel. Get the kids out the door and make a last-minute check. An extra minute of calm and focus now can save a lot of headaches if you were to leave something important behind.

Have a safe and fun trip!!!

>> Take a sec, in the comments below, share travel hacks that you use! Whether it is a day trip or something more major, the community of Park Hackers would love to benefit from your experience!

Photo credit: “Packed Up and Ready to Go” by Paul CC BY-SA 2.0