Whether your family is going on a cross country road trip or you’re headed to a romantic weekend getaway, you should review these rules to make your ride safe and enjoyable.
Rule #1 Plan Ahead
Anything can happen on the road, but with careful preparation you’ll be ready for almost anything. Here’s a list of things you should do before you get on the road:
- Establish a driving route including any alternate state roads. If you have a long drive and your using your phone to navigate, print or download the map. Google map is a great place to start.
- Identify family friendly rest stops including any parks or fields for a picnic. The Department of Transportation (DOT) has a listing of all DOT by State. On the DOT State’s page you can find a listing of the rest stops.
- Find a few decent hotels along the way if your drive is longer than 12 hours.
- Get a list of good restaraunts in the towns you’re passing through. I like Yelp for restaurant reviews, hours, and directions by city.
- Check the weather between your home and your destination. Accuweather has the most accurate weather updates.
- Make sure your car insurance is current and you have a copy of the ID cards along with your vehicle registration.
- Is your child in the right car seat? Children that are not sitting in the correct seat are more at risk of injury in vehicle accidents. Check out Safecar.gov to find out what car seat your child should be in and the proper way to secure a child seat.
Rule #2 Leave Early
Get plenty of rest the night before and get on the road earlier than your scheduled time. Unanticipated traffic, weather, and road closures can cause delays. Avoid rush hour traffic when driving through big cities by taking a rest or dinner break during rush hours.
Rule #3 Get your Car Serviced
Make sure your vehicle is in good condition by taking it in for an oil change and inspections. I schedule my oil changes a few weeks before we go. This gives me time to make any necessary repairs. Whether your driving your car or a rental car, your vehicle should be in top condition. You also should:
- Check your tire tread, pressure, spare and make sure you have the lock.
- Consider replacing your car battery if you had it longer than 5 years.
- Pack an emergency road kit with cables, flashlight, and first aid. You can find complete kits at automotive stores.
- Replace worn out windshield wipers.
- Get your car cleaned. Yes it will get messy on the road but its better to ride in a clean, comfortable, fresh smelling vehicle than 3 months worth of cracker crumbs in old juice in the carpet.
Rule #4 Safety First
According to the CDC motor vehicle traffic accidents were the leading cause of death in children age 4 and every age 11 through 27. Driver safety and awareness is crucial to getting you and your family to your destination. Be mindful of the following during your drive:
- Don’t take any medication that can cause drowsiness. Read the label carefully.
- Switch out drivers at the first sign of fatigue or pull over for a break and coffee.
- Keep your eyes on the road. Don’t fiddle with electronics.
- When absolutely necessary us a bluetooth device for all calls.
- Use a mobile stand if you’re using a device for navigation.
- Periodically check to make sure everyone is securely buckled.
- When your car has a 1/4 tank left look for a gas station.
- Report any reckless drivers on the road.
- For additional driver safety tips check out Auto Club South AAA.com Get There:Your Guide to Driver Safety
Rule #5 Provide Entertainment
There’s nothing worse than having a car full of little ones moaning “Are we there yet?” Boredom can be completely avoidable if you know what works best for your crew. Try these ideas for your next family road trip:
- Download children’s audio books on your device.
- Borrow books on CDs from your local library.
- Pack their favorite reading books and coloring pages with crayons.
- Bring along a portable DVD players along with their favorite movies. With Redbox you can rent and return movies any where in the United States.
- Download good music that everyone can enjoy like Michael Jackson or Stevie Wonder. Create stations on Pandora or Spotify for variety of music.
- Play road games like I Spy or License Plate Trivia. Check out PBS for more family road trip games.
- Sing along CD’s are also a good way to pass the time. The children’s section of your local library have lots of children’s music sing along cds.
- Make sure you have device chargers and extra batteries.
- Check out these Top 10 Road Trip Activities on Not Quite Susie.
Rule #6 Pack Well
In addition to packing for your destination you need to pack for the car ride. You will not have access to bathroom amenities like you would in an airport or a resort. And it’s hard to find healthy food options for your family on the road. Here’s some ideas of what you should pack for your family road trip:
- Healthy food that includes protein, fruits, and veggies. Avoid foods that are a choking hazard like popcorn or nuts.
- Ice cooler for food, water, and small juice boxes.
- Bathroom supplies including, toilet tissue, wipes, water, and soap.
- Extra change of clothes for everyone that should be accessible and not packed in the suitcase.
- Medications should be packed and stored in the glove compartment for easy access.
- Sick bags (grocery bags) and saltine crackers or ginger jellies to keep it down.
- Hand sanitizer liquid, sanitizing wipes, and paper towels.
- Favorite blankets, stuffed animals, or pillows.
- Emergency bag with blankets, flashlight, and first aid kit.
Congratulations, you are now ready for your family road trip. You’re gong to have a wonderful time. And now your last and final rule for the road,
Rule #7 Stop and Smell the Roses!
Get out of the car, stretch, and breath. Have a spontaneous picnic. Enjoy the other travelers. Let your vacation officially begin!
Have any tips you would like to share with readers. Feel free to leave a comment below or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org