Now that summer’s here, you might be planning on going on a road trip with the family. Whether you’re visiting relatives or exploring a new city and playing tourist, road trips can always turn into a bit of an adventure – perhaps more of an adventure than you were bargaining for. Road trips can be tons of fun, but if something goes wrong the fun can evaporate before you can say, “flat tire.” Check out the following road trip tips so that you can have the best road trip ever this summer.
12 road trip tips for your next adventure
1. Take your car for a tune-up.
Chances are you’re not driving road-trip-worthy distances all that often. Your car might be able to handle popping around town and getting to and from work, but what about a long haul across the country? Before you leave on your trip, it’s not a bad idea to take your car to a trustworthy mechanic for a checkup. Ask them to check over things like tire pressure, tire tread depth, your oil and wiper fluid levels, your wiper blades, and so on.
Your car needs to be in tip-top shape before you set out on your adventure. You don’t want to push the poor thing too hard on your trip, or it might just conk out on you.
2. Know where you’re going.
Being lost…not so fun.
Make sure that you’ve planned out your route ahead of time – and maybe have a backup or two. Figure out what you’re going to do for GPS and navigation, but perhaps don’t rely on electronic devices too heavily. As eye-roll-worthy as it might seem in the digital age, it might be a good idea to print out a set of directions and have them in the car. Just in case. That way you’ll still have something to go by if your navigation system decides it’s not going to cooperate.
3. Make sure your car is packed carefully.
It can be a struggle to get all the suitcases and luggage into the back of the car. Sometimes it might resemble an all-out suitcase battle. But it’s important to consider the vehicle’s balance when you’re loading the trunk or cargo area with all the gear your family will need. Pack the car so that it’s balanced – you don’t want to roll over if you take a turn too fast.
Oh, and make sure none of the suitcases are blocking your view through the rear window.
4. Prepare for flat tires.
There’s nothing quite as vexing as getting a flat tire. They strike out of nowhere and can throw your plans into chaos all-too-easily. Before you hit the road, make sure you know what you would do if you were visited by a flat. Is your spare tire ready to roll? And, well…will there be someone in the car who knows how to change a tire? If not, you might want to consider having the number of a roadside assistance service with you. Or you could join roadside assistance auto club that will come to the rescue if you need them. (And remember, it’s important to keep up with tire maintenance.)
5. Pack many, many snacks.
Sustenance is essential. Having a ready supply of snacks can stave off grumpiness before it ruins the day. Bring a variety of snacks with you so that everyone can munch on something they’ll enjoy. Keep everyone happy and well-fed on the road trip. It’s just better for everyone that no one gets snappy because they’re hungry.
Pack some treats, but also pack healthy snacks, too. Don’t just bring junk food.
6. Be sure to keep an eye on the gas gauge.
Okay, this might seem like a “no-duh” sort of thing. But still. Do be mindful of how much fuel your car has. It won’t run without gas, so it’s sort of important.
7. Have a car emergency kit.
It’s a good idea to be super prepared and have a car emergency kit. Your car emergency kit should have items that could come in handy for taking care of minor car issues, like jumper cables, but you should also bring practical things, too. Here are a few things you can put in your car kit:
- Rain poncho
- Reflective vest and triangle
- First-aid kit
- Food and water
You can also think about doing some online shopping – there are car emergency kits that are already pre-packaged. You can do some research to find one that will work for you.
8. Have plenty of entertainment for the kids.
Make sure that you have lots of entertaining things to keep the kids occupied. Yes, kids are great, but kids who are hollering, yelling, or crying because they’re bored and not happy can be a major distraction to the driver. Have a foolproof child entertainment plan that will keep the kids calm and happy throughout the road trip.
9. Keep an eye on the weather.
Summer is prime time for some pretty wild weather, from severe thunderstorms to tornadoes to flash floods. Keep an eye on the weather forecast and heed any emergency warnings. Get off the road if it isn’t safe to drive. Make sure that you have a way to monitor weather conditions, whether that’s listening to the radio or getting alerts on your smartphone.
10. Watch out for distracted or intoxicated drivers.
Unfortunately, not everyone adheres to the law when it comes to distracted driving and drunk driving.
It’s important that you’re focused on driving, scanning ahead. You need to be ready to react to any sudden hazards. In fact, you might want to stay in the middle or right lane of traffic if there’s no solid barrier between you and the traffic going the opposite direction. That way you’re farther away from anyone who could drift over the line and into your lane.
11. Rest up.
You need to get plenty of sleep before setting out on your trip. Driving drowsy is dangerous because your reaction time is not what it should be. It’s hard to anticipate danger, react quickly, and drive safely. It can even be hard to stay in your lane and keep the car steady.
Getting a good night’s sleep before your road trip is important, of course, but a lack of rest isn’t the only thing that can cause drowsy driving. Your mind can get bored and fatigued from staring at the road, and certain medications can cause sleepiness. The best thing to do if you feel like you’re fading is to stop the car in a safe place, stretch, and walk around a bit – or, if you can, take a quick nap. You should also try to switch off driving so that no one gets too mentally drained.
Remember, driving drowsy can be almost like driving drunk. Your reaction times are that slowed. Besides, it’s in everyone’s best interest – tiredness can cause severe grouchiness.
12. Wear seatbelts.
Everyone needs to be properly secured in the car before you start moving. Seatbelts save lives. They prevent the occupants of the car from flying forward and hitting the seats, dashboard, windows, or windshield if there’s an accident or sudden slow-down.
Think about this:
If the car is moving at 60 miles per hour, so is everything in it…including you. If the car hits something and suddenly stops, you will not – until something makes you stop. Your seatbelt can be that force that allows your body to stop moving, which is preferable to hitting the windshield or even going through the windshield.
So, those are our road trip safety tips. We hope that you have a wonderful and safe journey this summer. Enjoy your trip and have fun.
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