Road trips can either be really fun or completely exhausting, especially when you have kids! It is unforgettable fun if you are well prepared and relaxed or completely exhausting and stressful if you haven’t prepared well. Worrying about your vehicle, your safety, the route you are taking, and how quickly you need to arrive at your destination can lead to unnecessary anxiety and worry. Below are four simple tips to help you plan for and enjoy a long road trip.
Prepare, Especially When Travelling Alone
While there is nothing wrong with being spontaneous in general, planning and preparing for a road trip will always serve you well, especially if anything unexpected happens while on the road. Being prepared will not only keep you safe but it will also make your trip more enjoyable.
In addition to preparing yourself for your trip, it is also essential to check and prepare your vehicle. If your car hasn’t been serviced for a while it might be worthwhile having a proper service done before leaving. If your car has been serviced recently you will still need to check the following things – obviously, if you are clueless about your vehicle mechanics it is better to get a qualified auto mechanic to check these for you.
- Wheels and tires including your spare wheel
- Oil, water & coolants
- Brake pads, brake fluid, and clutch
- Air conditioning
Plan your trip
Once you know where you are wanting to go you can easily work out the actual distance. Use Google Maps to work out which routes are available and the distance of each one. It will also tell you more or less how much time each route will take. Remember, just because a route is shorter distance-wise, it might be a lot longer when it comes to travel time.
Next, work out how many hours you feel you will be able to comfortably drive in a day. If reaching your destination would take you two or more days of driving, then work out a schedule taking into account convenient stops along the route. If you are traveling with kids then some fun games that you can play in the car are a must!
You should take a break at least every two hours and plan for a 15-minute stop each time.
Pack the essentials
There is nothing worse than getting onto the road and then realizing that you forgot an important item at home. Avoid the stress and frustration of forgotten items by making sure you have everything you need before you leave. Here is a list to help you get started:
- Snacks, Food and Drinks
- Spare Keys
- First Aid Kit
- Paper Towels
- Sun Glasses
- Drivers License
- Insurance Policy Details
- Comfortable Shoes
- Your favorite music, podcasts, audiobooks
- Chargers for your phone, camera, etc.
- Spare batteries
- Toolkit including a hammer, pliers, etc.
- Hand sanitizer
- Disposable Gloves
- GPS and Maps
- Spare water
- Garbage Bags
Remember to also check the weather so you know if the road could potentially be hazardous!
If you are driving alone make sure that you take regular breaks – stop at least every 2 hours. Have your favorite music, podcasts, or audiobooks on hand to keep you company. If you are driving with someone, talking will help to keep the driver engaged and alert. Remember that even if you are traveling with people it is still important to make regular stops for both your safety and theirs.
As the driver, you must know your body and its limits and plan your trip around them. Don’t force yourself to drive if you are feeling tired.
A driver asleep at the wheel will not act to avoid an accident and consequently is much more likely to cause death or serious injury. In fact, tiredness-related accidents are 3 times more likely to result in serious injury or death compared to other types of road accidents.ARRIVE ALIVE
If you do start feeling tired while driving, drinking coffee or an energy drink alone is not always enough to wake you up. They might help you feel more alert, but the effects can be deceiving as they only last for a short time and you might not be as alert as you think you are. The very best thing you can do if you feel tired is to pull over in a safe place and take a nap. Even a quick 30-minute nap will help immensely! Remember it’s never worth risking your safety and that of your passengers if your body is telling you it needs rest.
A long road trip is never a race. A steady, alert driver usually makes a really good time compared to someone who is reckless. Enjoy the scenery! An added benefit of driving steadily is that you’ll also save gas. Win-win!
Be aware of other drivers around you and make sure you always keep a good distance between yourself and the driver in front of you. And if you have someone racing up behind you, pull over or move to the side so that they can pass. It really isn’t worth having a reckless driver traveling behind you who has little regard for either their own or your safety!
With proper preparation before a trip and a good attitude during a journey, you can make sure you not only survive a long trip – but also enjoy it.