School is almost out for the summer for the kids, Memorial Day is coming right up, and it’s time for vacation. You might be planning a road trip for the family this summer. Maybe you’re going sight-seeing, or maybe you’re going to visit extended family. Wherever your destination may be, it’s important to be safe on your trip. Check out the following tips to have the funnest (we may be making up words) and best road trip ever.
1. Get your car a checkup.
If you’re going to be going on a long trip, it’s important that your car is up to the task. You’re kind of asking it to run a marathon, so be sure to take it to a trustworthy mechanic for a quick tune-up. Check over things like your tire pressure, tire tread depth, oil, wiper blades, and wiper fluid.
Your car is a faithful friend. Give it some TLC before you ask it to traverse hundreds of miles. It’s the nice thing to do.
2. Plan your route.
It’s kind of nice to know where you’re going. Plan out your route and have a plan for GPS/navigation. It might be a good idea to go old-school and print out a set of directions so that you have something to go by in case your GPS or navigation conks out. Never hurts to be prepared! Your trip could take a very unexpected turn (literally) if your GPS dies.
3. Pack your car carefully.
Yes, your car might resemble a carefully planned puzzle, but you need to pack all of the suitcases and gear in such a way that the car is balanced. So, send your car to yoga class and help it find its inner balance.
Also, make sure that your view is not obstructed. Being able to see through the rear-view mirror is kind of important.
4. Have a flat-tire emergency plan.
Flat tires happen. It’s a tenet of Murphy’s Law – anything that can go wrong will go wrong. It’s important to have your spare tire ready to go in case you need it…and to know how to use it. Make sure you’ve got the proper tools to change a tire. And if no one who will be in the car knows how to get the job done, make sure to have the number of a roadside assistance service handy (or get a roadside assistance membership and be sure to bring the card with you.)
5. Bring snacks. Lots of snacks.
Sharing a car with cranky, grouchy, hungry passengers…stressful. Pack plenty of snacks. Try to bring a variety of foods – sweet, salty, and healthy – to keep everyone appeased. Especially the kids. Hungry children are not happy children.
And speaking of snacks – well, fuel…
Don’t forget to be mindful of your gas gauge. If you’ll have to go long stretches without passing a gas station over the course of your road trip, plan accordingly. Know how much mileage your car gets per gallon.
6. Pack a car emergency kit.
You can put together a car emergency kit prior to your trip. It should include car-related items you may need, like jumper cables, but other practical items, too. For starters…
- Rain poncho
- Reflective vest and reflective triangle
- First-aid kit
- Food and water
Of course, there are ready-made kits that you can buy online. You might want to do some research to find out if there’s a reasonably-priced one that will work for you.
7. Bring or plan entertainment for the kids.
Bored, squealing, shouting, or crying children can be a distraction to the driver. Yes, you love your kids, but it’s vital that you have plenty of things to do to occupy them so they’re quiet, calm, and happy throughout the trip. Figure out fun things for them to do. Whether that’s downloading movies on your tablet or playing car road trip games, plan accordingly and let the good times roll.
8. Stay tuned to the weather forecast.
Summer can bring some crazy weather, and things can get so intense that it might be downright unsafe to drive. Heavy rains and storms are common for the summer months, so keep tabs on the weather and adjust your route/plans accordingly. Hopefully, you won’t have any rain on your parade, but use your smartphone or listen to the radio to get important weather updates.
9. Be on the watch for distracted or drunk drivers.
Stay alert and watch the road carefully. Scan your surroundings and be prepared to take action if something happens. Distracted driving is really dangerous, as is drunk driving, so you have to be alert for other drivers who are not behaving safely.
A tip if you’re driving down a highway –
Stay in the middle or right lanes of traffic. If someone traveling the opposite direction crosses the solid yellow lines onto your side of the road, this will give you more time to react and prevent an accident.
10. Get lots of sleep.
Driving while drowsy is not a good idea. It’s downright dangerous. As you get more and more tired, you lose your ability to react fast to dangers, hold the car steady, and make quick decisions. Make sure you get plenty of sleep the night before the road trip.
But keep in mind that boredom from the road and certain medications can also cause drowsiness. If you need to, take a break. Stretch, walk around, and switch with someone who is not mentally fatigued from driving. (Remember, being a safe driver can help you save money on car insurance.)
Being overly tired can be like driving drunk. Your reaction times and decision-making are that impaired. Making sure everyone gets plenty of rest is generally a road-trip best practice. Tiredness usually goes hand-in-hand with grouchiness…and that’s no fun for anyone.
11. Make sure everyone buckles up.
Seatbelts are a must. Seatbelts save lives by stopping people from flying forward in the event of a crash. If a car is traveling 65 miles per hour, that means everything in the car is also traveling at 65 mph. Which means that if the car stops, all passengers will continue forward at 65 mph until something stops them. And it’s better if that something is a seatbelt than a windshield or the back of a seat. The seatbelt will distribute the force of the crash over a wide, strong area of the body.
Anyways. Remember that seatbelts are for the cool kids. Buckle up, everyone.
So, there are our top road trip tips for the summer. And of course, we wish you safe travels to wherever your summer adventures take you.
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