Labor Day is right around the corner, and you might be planning on taking a road trip with your family. While road trips can be a lot of fun, it’s also important to take some time to plan your adventure so that it goes as smoothly as possible. Flat tires, traffic, and weather can all conspire against you. Take a look at these 12 road trip tips.
12 road trip tips for Labor Day Weekend
1. Before you leave – get your car a tune-up.
Before you depart on your trip, it’s important that your car gets a clean bill of health from a trustworthy mechanic. It’s a good idea to take your car for a quick tune-up before you begin your epic journey so that you can fix any issues that could cause trouble on your trek. Short little trips around town aren’t exactly the same as a marathon road trip.
2. Have backup directions.
Yeah, being lost isn’t exactly a great time.
Know what route you’re going to take to get to your destination. You’ll probably end up using GPS of some sort, but you might want to have a printed set of directions just in case your technology suddenly decides it wants to take a nap – or just plain not work. Yeah, it might seem “old-school” in today’s day and age, but hey – it could be super helpful to have a print-out of your directions.
3. Think about a car alarm.
You can think about getting a car alarm system for your vehicle. This can help protect it.
4. Have a flat-tire emergency plan.
Nothing like a flat tire to suck the fun out of a road trip.
Make sure that you’re prepared for flat tires before you go on the trip. First of all, make sure that your spare tire is good to go and check that you have all the tools you’d need to change the tire. If no one in the car knows how to change a tire – it’s a bit of a lost art – you might want to consider getting a roadside assistance membership from a motor club so that someone will come to your rescue if needed.
5. Pack food.
Snacks are key to having happy passengers for the duration of the road trip. Pack healthy snacks to balance out the classic junk-food favorites and make sure everyone has a snack food they’ll enjoy. People can get cranky when they get hungry, so be prepared for this inevitability with a well-stocked snack stash.
6. Watch the gas gauge.
Okay, you might be saying, “Well, no duh.” But still, be mindful of where the gas stations are along your route. You might need to fill up earlier than usual if it doesn’t look like there will be gas stations in the near future. Unfortunately, cars don’t run unless they have gas. Be aware of the needle on the gas gauge.
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7. Put together a car emergency kit.
You should put together a “car emergency” kit filled with things that you could need in case your road trip hits an unexpected speed bump (sorry, couldn’t resist.) Check out the following list of things to include in your car kit:
- Jumper cables
- Rain poncho
- Reflective vest and triangles
- First-aid kit
There are pre-made kits that you can buy online, too. Do some research and see if you can find an option that makes sense for you.
8. Plan entertainment for the kids.
Kids tend to get bored on road trips. It’s important to have plenty of things to do so that the kids are entertained and occupied. Kids who are not happy – i.e. screaming, yelling, crying, or hollering – can be very distracting to whoever is driving the car. Children who are distracted and entertained are happy children. Keep everyone nice and calm.
9. Watch the weather.
Also, make sure to keep an eye on the weather. Make sure to keep an ear out for emergency weather warnings and look at the forecast. If it’s not safe to drive, seek shelter. Don’t try to tough it out. Just wait for the weather to play itself out.
10. Be careful of distracted or drunk drivers.
Stay vigilant for drivers who aren’t acting safely. Whether they’re texting and driving or driving while intoxicated, you need to be prepared to act to avoid danger if possible. Scan ahead and have a plan to respond to any potential hazards. Focus on the road.
Pro tip: Stay in the middle or right lane if there’s no barrier between you and the traffic going in the opposite direction. That way you’re not as close to drivers who could drift onto your side of the road and hit you head-on.
11. Get lots of rest.
It’s important to get plenty of sleep before heading out on your road trip. Drowsy driving is dangerous – your reaction time and ability to make quick decisions are both impaired. And both of those are things you need to drive safely. And being exhausted or tired behind the wheel can make it difficult to stay in your lane, hold the car steady, and anticipate danger. And if you’re driving long distances down the highway, it’s easy to get mentally fatigued. Be sure to switch off the driving with someone else or rest if you feel that you’re getting too tired to drive. It’s worth taking twenty minutes to stop the car in a safe place, walk around, stretch, and breathe some fresh air.
12. Don’t forget a seatbelt check.
Every passenger should be wearing their seatbelt. Seatbelts stop people from flying into the windshield or dashboard if there’s an accident, so be sure everyone is wearing their seatbelts.
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