Vancouver, British Columbia – Even with the price of gasoline, many families are still planning to “hit the road” for their vacations this summer, according to the British Columbia Automobile Association (BCAA). The association said that requests for its road trip planning services have remained steady, with close to 10,000 TripTik customized road planners produced for members in 2009.

For 2010, the most-requested destinations, in order, are California, Arizona, Ontario, Nevada and Newfoundland.

Although vacationing by car can be a budget-friendly way to explore and bond as a family, BCAA advises that careful planning is essential. “A well-planned road trip can provide families with a vacation experience that is cost-effective, efficient and safe,” said membership manager Gina Iuliano. “Good planning allows families to spend less time dealing with problems or logistics, and more time creating fun-filled memories.”

BCAA offers the following tips:

– Decide on some stops beforehand. Knowing ahead of time where certain sites, attractions and rest areas are located will help make the trip fun and reduce stress.

– Invest in an iPod or portable DVD player, but keep the sound volume low and watch DVDs only in the back seats to avoid driver distraction.

– Give your vehicle a thorough tune-up, two weeks prior to your trip to allow time for repair. Check wiper blades, all fluids, tire pressure and tread, hoses and belts, brakes and air conditioning.

– Pack a well-stocked first-aid kit and a few light tools, including screwdrivers, hammer, adjustable wrench, pliers, baling wire, flashlight, WD-40 and a rag.

– For the children, bring an activity bag with crayons, books and games; pillows and blankets; and a cooler with juice boxes and low-mess snacks.

– Keep key items such as snacks, paper towels and MP3 players within reach, to avoid unnecessary stops to search for items in the back.

– Change seats at each stop and switch drivers if you can. Take breaks, where everyone stretches or runs out some energy or boredom. Save the electronics for later and try talking, singing or playing road trip games.

Connect with