Road trips are one of the most fun ways to travel when they’re done right. As long as you’ve planned plenty of great stops, stick to some of the more picturesque routes, and you keep your family or friends entertained, it’s a blast. It really feels like going exploring and on a shared adventure. However, there are other things that can get in the way of the trip. As it’s a road trip, it should be obvious that your car and how you drive provide obvious risks. Here’s how you stay on top of the some of the biggest.
Know where you’re going well ahead of time
A little detour here and there isn’t the end of the world on a road trip. If you find out there’s something super promising just a little way off the planned route, it can feel like uncovering one of the hidden gems of the trip. However, that doesn’t mean you should go off the planned route as much as possible looking for more. Running out of fuel is one of the leading causes of being stranded during a road trip. Organize your trip and plan all the stops well in advance, making note of any gas stations you can use in case you’re depleting sooner than expected. If you do go off-plan then be sure of how close you will be to your nearest stop and that you have the fuel to make the trip.
When you’re driving for so long, even if you’re taking turns, you need to stay sharp. Just because you might be dealing with peaceful stretches of long, empty road doesn’t mean that there isn’t always an inherent risk of an accident. One of the best tools to preventing an accident is your own ability to react on the road. However, failing to get your car serviced and checked up before going can wrestle that control for you. For instance, make sure your wheels are taken care of, that they’re rotated, aligned and balanced before setting off. Even if you can control the car just fine with a pulling car, it’s a trip-long annoyance that you don’t want to deal with. Make sure the brake pads are checked before you set off, too. If they’re showing any signs of wear, it’s time to replace them.
Control is one thing, but without being able to get the car moving, then all thoughts of a road trip are going to have to be put to one side. Check the two biggest risks of breakdown before you head off: the battery and the engine. In particular, if you haven’t changed the oil, you definitely need to do it before a trip. Making sure your car is safe before a trip isn’t all that expensive, either. How much will an oil change cost you? It can be as little as $45. That’s not a lot to pay for avoiding the risk of the engine overheating and doing irreparable damage to itself.
Dealing with them after
Naturally, there’s always a chance of a breakdown, no matter how much you prepare. You might end up with a flat. Preventative steps aren’t enough. You have to make sure that you have a good chance of starting back up. Beyond things like a spare tire and jumper cables, make sure that your emergency kit contains tools that help the family or you and your friends stay safe. Reflective cones to place around the car are particularly important at night, as well as some reflective clothing for everyone in the car. The most important part of the emergency kit might be a portable phone charger, too. Without it, you might not be able to make those vital calls as quickly as you could otherwise.
Set some ground rules
Making sure that you’re prepared for the car troubles that can happen and how you cope with the worst-case scenarios is important. But you have to also consider your driving habits. Road trips are fun and spending time with the others in the car is a big part of that fun. However, you need to set some ground rules with everyone before they get in the car. The driver always needs to avoid distraction, most importantly. Distraction is becoming one of the leading risks of crashes and the passengers in the car are often a big contributor to said crashes.
Get some shut eye
You might have all your nightly stops planned in advance, but you also need to prepare for the risk that you might get tired before you reach the next one. Caffeine can only help combat drowsy driving for so long. Having more than one driver in the car can immediately fix the problem but that’s not always the case. If you can’t make your next stop, you have to be willing to find a safe place to stop even if it’s for a short nap. Of course, if you have camping gear with you then it can just be another improvised destination on the trip.
Under the weather?
It’s not as serious as any of the problems mentioned above, but enjoying the road trip is almost as important as making it safe. To that end, any of the passengers dealing with car sickness can have a woeful time of the journey. So, what can you do to prevent car sickness? Bring fewer heavy, spicy, or greasy foods for one and stop to have more of your meals outside the car in the fresh weather. Car sickness tablets can be a great help, too, of course. But if you have any kids with car sickness, teach them not to look at their phones or any games they’ve brought with them. If they start feeling it coming on, looking out the window at distant scenery can be a great help. Of course, don’t forget zip lock bags and cleaning wipes to deal with the unfortunate probability they can’t hold back.
Make sure your car is ready, make sure you’re ready, and make sure everyone going with you is ready. There are few things worse than uncalled for stops and even having to cancel a trip because of poor preparation.