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  • Writer's pictureAndy Murphy

Family Road Trip Hacks

Have a fun, safe road trip with your family.

We are approaching the time of year where we hit the road to go and visit family and see the beautiful fall colors. Because of this, I wanted to share a few things with you to help make your trip safer and more enjoyable for the entire family.

The Grayman Way to Travel

The first thing I’ll mention is how you dress for the trip. Obviously, you want to dress for the weather you expect upon your arrival. But I want to take this a step further. When I travel I adopt a grayman attitude about my attire.

If you’re not familiar with the grayman theory it is simply being able to blend into your surroundings so that you don’t stand out.

This is done with clothing, attitude, and behavior. But for the purposes of this article, we’ll talk about the clothing aspect.

What I mean by being a grayman when you travel is not advertising where you’re going or where you’re from. That means I don’t wear a shirt that says, “The Murphy’s are going to Disney” on it.

It also means I don’t suggest wearing clothing that says where you work, your sports teams, or even school shirts for your kids. Also, stay away from political attire as well. That can be a big trigger for some people. It’s very important to make sure your entire family can fit in wherever they go.

This is important because anyone with bad intentions can read your shirt about going to Disney and try to profile you enough to craft con.

Likewise, you don’t want your kids wearing a shirt with their elementary school on it. For example at a gas station, a predator can make up a fake story with realistic details to chat with your daughter while you're out pumping gas.

The takeaway is not to stand out and give away information about who you are and where you might be going. Wear clothes that have brand logos on them. Or shirts that have simple patterns. The less information you give away about yourself, the better the chances you’ll be seen as a hard target for a criminal.

Supplies for the Road

When it’s time to hit the road make sure your car has a few supplies that you may need in case something goes wrong. Most importantly, always keep bottled water in your car.

It’s great when your kid suddenly announces that they are dying of thirst - take a bottle out of your door panel and hand it off. It’s also good for cleaning the car and for medical emergencies. And I’ve used the offer of a bottle of water to ease tense people and help them calm down. It makes a good peace offering.

Chances are you have vomit bags in your car, but might I suggest you invest in the good ones with the white rim and blue bag. Those are great for road sickness and I’ll leave it at that.

Two other types of bags for the car are trash bags and zippy bags. Trash bags can help you dispose of food, dirty diapers, and even carry stuff you don’t want to be noticed. The zippy bags can be used to hold unfinished food and even random things like money. Both are versatile in an emergency.

Tools to Keep Your Vehicle Moving

Of course, you should never leave home without a tire inflator and a power jump starter. I’ve had both bail me out of car emergencies and I highly recommend you find space in your vehicles for them.

If you have the budget, get a set for each car you own. Because Murphy’s Law dictates that you’ll need a tire inflator and it will be in the other car. That’s just my luck. So take this one from me.

As for the power jump starters, they really do work. I’m amazed at how simple they are to use and how fast they work. I have experience with the NOCO brand and I recommend them fully. You’ll pay a bit more, but the finishes and durability are worth the extra money. Plus, it can be used as a power bank for other devices, so it’s well worth it.


For your trip to make sure things go smoothly keep everyone entertained for as long as you can. If you are bringing tablets or portable game systems be sure to have power for them as well as headphones. You don’t want to hear Mario jumping and yelling for hours.

My family has downloaded what we used to call books on tape, they are now called audiobooks. If you have a library card you can use the Hoopla app to download audiobooks for yourself and your kids.

Think of it as a digital library where you can check out digital books and audiobooks all for free! You just need to have a valid library card for your area.

Defensive Tools

If you are going to carry a defense tool on a trip be careful as you cross state lines. Every state has different protocols for firearms in cars for traffic stops. Be sure you know what the laws are and how to communicate that you have a firearm in the car if it’s necessary. If you don’t want to ride with your firearm on your person, make sure it’s locked in a portable vault so that there are no accidents.

Also if you have pepper gel on you, make sure that you can get it if you need it. If you are storing it, put it in a box or locked container so that it can’t accidentally be activated in the car.

That won’t be a good trip for anyone.

If you are looking for more tips for the road, don’t worry, I’ve made the ultimate packing list for you. It goes over must-haves, food, entertainment, and health gear.


Andy Murphy

Andy Murphy founded The Secure Dad in 2016 with the aspiration to help families live safer, happier lives. What started as a personal blog about family safety has turned into an award-winning podcast, an Amazon best-selling book, and online courses. He focuses his efforts in the areas of home security, situational awareness, and online safety.


Andy is a husband and father. His interests include coaching youth basketball, hiking, and trying to figure out his 3D printer.

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