Get ready to hit the road! Hitting the open road with the family can make magical memories that will last a lifetime. What could go wrong? Plenty. Family car trips are fraught with potential disaster; here are some tips to avoid them!
First off, you don’t want to get stuck on the road. When was the last time you performed routine maintenance on your vehicle? Have you checked your tires for wear? When did you last change your filters? Today’s vehicles ‘s computerized systems make most maintenance a job for the pros. Before you set out for your trip, have your mechanic check your car’s fluids and filters, climate control, brakes and exhaust. A complete checklist to make sure your car is road ready for anything is available from Ready.gov, your best course for family safety.
Also, be familiar with your rental, if you’re renting a car. Before you pull out of the lot, check the manual! Do you know how to adjust the seats? Can you pull into the filling station with the gas tank facing the pumps? Can you adjust the climate control or the radio without taking your eyes off the road?
Child locks are a wonderful safety feature until Gramps is stuck in the back seat. If you’re driving a hybrid, electric or gas/electric vehicle for the first time, read up on mileage efficiency. It’s also a good idea to download the official charging apps and register with a couple of providers. Plan your driving around charging, either overnight, at lunch or while you’re enjoying an attraction or sightseeing.
Every passenger vehicle should have an emergency road kit. You can buy one kit at most car supply stores or download a checklist of supplies to make your own. The bare minimum includes jumper cables, a can of aerosol tire sealant, a jack and lug wrench, a fire extinguisher and containers of coolant and oil. Winter travel has its own potential threats, so throw in an ice scraper, a blanket and a bag of sand or cat litter. A battery radio should be included in every emergency kit! Finally, take a map. A road atlas may be old fashioned, but it can be a lifesaver when you’re out satellite range or your cellphone powers down. The American Automobile Association has a comprehensive list of essentials that can you get through any emergency!
You want to keep the kids entertained. Video games and tablets loaded with videos are great distractions for the kids, and a possible headache for the adults after multiple plays. Old fashioned games can be just as entertaining and a backup for when the battery wears out on the game player! License plates, billboards and the passing scenery lend themselves to lots of games that are fun for all ages. Everyone likes a good round of I-Spy! A Girls Guide to Cars, a site dedicated to the woman driver, offers a list of nine timeless games that anyone can play.
Taking breaks is healthy. Long road trips can cause deep vein thrombosis, also known as blood clots. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) anyone traveling more than four hours seated can cause blood to pool in the legs, especially if you have risk factors including recent surgery or injury, age or obesity or heart conditions. Symptoms include pain or tenderness, swelling, unusual warmth or skin discoloration. Be careful, build frequent breaks into your travel plans to stand up and move around. An added bonus, those stops can also help prevent highway hypnosis, a not un-common phenomenon that causes you to go into a trance-like state while driving. Break the monotony of the drive for your safety and your passengers!
Know before you go! Your family is ten minutes from Grandma’s and you’re stopped at an intersection of two one-way streets, you inch forward and turn left on the red light. It’s legal in 38 states. Do you know which ones? You’ve been driving for hours and you’re going to be late. You reach for your phone and speed dial the hotel to ask for a later check-in. That’s illegal in some states. Nothing spoils a road trip faster than a time consuming and costly ticket for a moving violation. Most traffic regulations are determined by the individual state, check the rules before you pull of the driveway. The Governors Highway Safety Association lists the laws for distracted driving, right turn on red and even how to pass on their website!
These simple steps can make all the difference between a dream trip or a nightmare you’re family never forget!