Summer is the perfect time to take a road trip. It’s the best time of year to roll down the windows, listen to your favorite music and enjoy the freedom of the open road. But a lot can go wrong when you’re en route to your destination. A little preparation can go a long way in making your trip as stress-free as possible.
Car trouble will instantly turn your dream trip into a nightmare. Take the time to get your car inspected and serviced before you hit the road.
Summer can be especially hard on your vehicle. The bright sun and high temperatures can lead to tire damage and put stress on your car’s fluids.
Have your tires, fluids and battery checked before you head out. And check out any other issues you’re concerned about while you have your car in the shop.
Even if you get your car serviced, you may still run into car trouble. Flat tires, engine issues, dead batteries and other problems can come out of nowhere. Make sure that you pack an emergency road kit to ensure that you’re prepared for these unexpected events.
Make sure that your kit includes:
Having an emergency kit on hand will give you some peace of mind that you have the supplies you need to get through an emergency situation.
Part of the fun of a road trip is taking your time and enjoying the sights. But if you have to make a pit stop every time you need something to eat or drink, it will take you twice as long to reach your destination.
Depending on where you’re going, it could be 30-50 miles until the next gas station or stop off on the highway. If you’re traveling with kids (or even with some adults), you can expect them to get cranky if they get really hungry or thirsty.
To save you time and keep everyone in the car happy, be sure to pack plenty of snacks and water. Sandwiches are great for road trips if you have room for a cooler. You can restock on snacks and drinks when you stop to fuel up. And if you really feel like stopping for a sit-down dinner, you can do so without everyone feeling cranky.
Some people enter their destination into their GPS and head out without ever planning their route. While you can go this route, it may be helpful to plan out your route. Why? Because then you can mark off all travel stations, rest stops, hotels and points of interest along the way.
There are several apps that can help you plan your trip, including Google Maps.
If you plan to stop for the night, we don’t recommend booking a hotel too far in advance. You never know how the trip will go. A few unexpected delays can put you far behind, and the last thing you want to do is rush to your hotel. Instead, plan to book the room a few hours in advance or take your chances by pulling into a nearby hotel and asking for a room.
We also recommend having a paper map on hand, and marking off your route on here, too, so that you know where to go if you lose cell service or your phone. You can also download maps from Google for offline use.
Before you head out on the road, check the weather forecast. It may be sunny and hot at your current location, but there may be serious weather ahead. A bad thunderstorm could cause delays. Pouring rain will force you to slow down, and accidents are more common in heavy rain.
Don’t rush if there’s bad weather ahead. Accept that this is just another part of the road trip experience, and it’s okay to take your time. It’s better to arrive a little later than expected than to get into an accident.
If you’re planning your trip around a holiday, you can expect the roads to be packed with other travelers. Be defensive. Don’t travel too closely behind other cars, give other drivers room to merge, and be prepared to stop or slow down at any moment.
Warmer weather tends to bring out the worst in other drivers. People are happy and carefree, which means they aren’t always paying attention and can easily make mistakes.
The radio can provide entertainment, but if you want to keep everyone happy, ask them to create their own playlists. This way, everyone can take turns listening to their favorite music. If you have kids, they can also bring their headphones and keep themselves busy on their devices.
Along with electronic devices, you may also want to pack magazines, books and other offline things to keep passengers busy and occupied.
Make sure that everyone uses the restroom every time you make a stop. There’s nothing more frustrating than having to stop five minutes after pulling out of gas station because someone has to go to the bathroom.
It could be dozens of miles before you have another chance to stop to use a bathroom, and the facilities may not be as clean as you’d like. Whenever you stop at a travel station, make sure that everyone uses the restroom.
Road trips can be a lot of fun, especially if you go with the right people. But it’s important to be prepared and plan ahead so that everything goes as smoothly as possible. Packing the right gear and planning your stops can save you a lot of headaches and frustration.
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