Spring and summer are the perfect seasons to plan a road trip. Whether you’re in the mood to hit the road for a solitary camping trip or pack up the car and take the kids to some of America’s most scenic landscapes, a good old fashioned road trip can be a great way to get away from it all. While a little spontaneity can make a road trip a little more exciting, particularly if you’ve been stuck behind the wheel for hours, if you want to get the most out of your trip you should consider having a plan. Here are some planning tips to ensure that your road trip is safe, fun, and organized:
Prep Your Car
Whether you’re driving across the state or across the country, it’s essential that your car is ready to handle the trip. If you’re almost due for an oil change, have it done by your trusted mechanic and have him or her look over your car (check fluids, tires, brakes) and make sure your spare is in good condition. If you haven’t changed your windshield wipers since before the winter months, it’s a good idea to put fresh wipers on your car and have your car washed and waxed before you hit the road. A good set of wipers and a clean car will keep your visibility clear if you end up driving through a rainstorm during your travels. In addition to making sure that your car is good to go, double check your insurance and make sure that you have roadside assistance and if not, add it on before you leave.
No matter how you travel, it’s easy to over-pack, but for your own safety on the road it’s important to pack wisely and keep it light. We’ve all seen the car on the highway, packed to the ceiling with a variety of luggage and random items, and wondered how the passengers could sit comfortably, let alone see anything. Try to make it a goal to pack so your luggage and other travel items are not blocking your view of the back window or your blind spot. If you’ve got a packed car and need more space, consider a rooftop cargo carrier.
Prepare Your Passengers, Eliminate Distractions
If you’re traveling with family, particularly children, make preparations for their entertainment. While quiet activities like books and napping will only last so long, it’s important that they have enough to do so that your distractions on the road are minimal and your focus can remain on the road rather than hearing someone say, “Are we there yet?”
In addition to making sure your passengers are entertained, eliminate other distractions such as cellphones and make sure you’ve got your GPS all mapped out before you head out on the road.
Look Ahead to the Forecast and Road Conditions
Everyone knows that the weather forecast can change dramatically and without warning, but it’s always a good idea to check out your the forecast during your trip. Download weather apps to your phone so you can stay updated as you travel. It’s also a good idea to get connected with road conditions (construction, closures, delays) by checking out a state’s department of transportation page. If the forecast looks challenging and potentially hazardous, be smart and delay your travel plans or create a safer alternate route.