US road trips are shorter on average, but nonetheless more common today than ever before in our history.
There are many of us who love the thrill and adventure of getting out of a “rut” and making tracks on the open road. Standing in security lines at the airport, constantly lugging and checking bags, and other airport inconveniences disappear when you travel our nation’s highways.
And it’s much easier to customize your itinerary, travel at you own pace, bring “Fido” or “Fluffy” along, and keep your trip on an affordable budget when you travel by car.
In the interests of helping you have a better road trip, regardless of where you destination may be or what route you will take, here are 4 top road trip tips to “keep you happy on the road.”
1. Choose Your Road Trip Vehicle With Care
Whether you are using a car, motorcycle, RV, minivan, or something else, be sure your road trip vehicle has plenty of room to stretch out in for all passengers. Be sure it’s in excellent condition before you set out – get a full vehicle inspection from a reliable, licensed mechanic.
And pay particular attention to the brakes and acceleration, the tire tread, battery life, signal functionality, and response/control on the turns during your pre-trip safety test drive.
Also check all fluid levels and make sure your wiper blades, cruise control, AC, and heater are all working properly.
2. Plan Out Your Route Methodically
Using a GPS system can save you the stress and extra gas money of a wrong turn or missed exit. And it will give you added peace of mind – so go GPS if at all possible!
But, ALSO plan out your trip with an online map site like maps.google or maps.yahoo. Print out the results and study them. Zoom in if you need to better identify an exit number or road name in those “tangled” zones where many roads meet.
And finally, bring a good, detailed map with you that covers your entire route. If you lose your signal and the GPS won’t work, you don’t want to be suddenly clueless as to where you are at and how to get where you want to be.
3. Take It Easy On The Long Stretches
If you are driving alone, it’s a good idea to stop for a quick rest up every couple hours. If you have a traveling companion who can drive, then you should switch driver’s seat and shotgun positions every few hours.
It doesn’t make sense to wear yourself out and wear your nerves thin by trying to stay awake and drive the whole distance straight through. That can lead to “sleep driving” and accidents.
Also be sure to turn on the radio if you feel bored, converse with your travel buddy (while still focusing on the road!), use entertaining road games to keep kids occupied between the “are we there yets,” and keep snacks and a cool water bottle handy as you drive. Small things like this can make a trip so much more pleasant.
4. Always Put Safety First
You’ll drive more at ease knowing you’ve packed a full-orbed roadside safety kit. Include jumper cables, a flashlight with new batteries, nonperishable food, a can opener, bottle water, a first aid kit, blankets, extra socks, and glow sticks.
Also be sure you have a spare tire or doughnut, a suitable jack, and a tire iron. An extra quart or two of oil and an empty gas can in the car will also be in order.
Before you take off on a memorable journey, perhaps hundreds of miles away, do everything possible to plan for a safe, comfortable trip with no wrong turns. A little planning upfront will pay big dividends “down the road.”