Road trips are the most rewarding way to get to know a place. It allows you to drive on your own schedule and make as many or as few stops as you want. It’s also a bonding experience for those who take a trip together.
However, a long trip is also stressful and requires a driver to pay attention to the road. There are a few tips you should be aware of when starting such a trip. Those are mostly about making sure that you’re well-rested and able to use your breaks to explore the city you’re visiting.
1. Prepare the Car Beforehand
Before you start the trip in the first place, the safe thing to do is to check the car up and to do it in detail. That way you can fix everything that may be wrong with it before you hit the road. There are a few common fixes that every car needs after a certain number of miles.
Start with checking your fluids and breaks. You should also inspect the tires and change the oils and the filters. This should be a yearly practice but it also helps to do it before a major trip.
2. Plan Your Rest
It’s important that you incorporate time to rest into your plans. You shouldn’t be driving more than 3 to 4 hours at a time and you should have 30 to 45-minute breaks between these stretches of driving. That way you can focus on the road and stay safe out there.
It’s best to implement these breaks into your plans and use them to get to know the place you’re visiting while you’re resting. A break should also be a time to stretch your legs a bit.
3. Having the Proper Documents With You
You’re not allowed to drive without an international permit issued by the InternationalDriversAssociation if you’re a foreign national. This document is only valid if you also have a national permit with you and an ID that hasn’t expired and has a recent photo.
An international driving permit lasts for a year and there’s a fine that you can pay if you get caught driving without it. It’s best to set up a folder with the proper documents and to have it in a car with you at all times.
4. Have a GPS with You
A GPS is essential for getting around and especially when you’re driving in an area you’re not that familiar with. If you’re in a large city or near one, the GPS on your phone is all that you need. However, if you decide to drive into the country you should get a GPS for your car.
If you decide to rent a GPS for your car, you’ll need to pay a separate insurance premium on it and it’s best to go along with it since that’s the policy and you’re going to need a GPS in case you get lost.
5. Tool Box
Every driver should be able to fix a few common issues that your vehicle may encounter in the middle of the road. You’ll also need a toolbox in order to do so – make sure that the tools are clean and usable and that they cover most problems that you may encounter before you go.
The most common issue will probably be with the tires, especially if you’ve checked the car before the trip. Make sure you know how to use the tools and quickly fix the tire with what you have on hand.
6. Snacks and Drinks
If you plan to be on the road for a long time and don’t want to depend on stops to buy snacks, you’ll need to prepare some beforehand. This is usually the best way to avoid snacks that are filled with sugar and find a healthier alternative instead.
It’s equally important that you’re hydrated and that you have plenty of water alongside other drinks. Being hydrated on the road is also about safety since it means you’ll stay well-rested and focused throughout the ride. This is especially true if you’re driving through a high-temperature area.
7. Prepare for the Weather Change
Weather can change rather quickly and especially if you’re driving through a desert or a hot climate area in general. The temperatures can drop surprisingly quickly as soon as the sun sets and many drivers are surprised by this. The key is to prepare a set of clothes that will still be comfortable but also keep you warm during these drops.
The best way to go is to bring a few more layers of clothes that you can add or take off when needed. A blanket is sometimes a good idea as well.
8. Entertainment is Important
Long stretches of empty roads are the worst thing for your focus and surprisingly this is where most accidents happen. Everyone is focused when the traffic is busy but this is where you slip. This is why entertainment in the form of music and podcasts can play a role in keeping you safe on the road.
If you’re traveling with kids, movies and podcasts are also essential to making sure that the kids are occupied and that they present a distraction to the driver. Keep in mind that their attention spans will be quite short regardless of what movies you bring along.
Enjoy The Trip
There’s usually a lot of stress and planning involved when taking a long road trip. This is common and it can also keep you safe. However, it doesn’t mean you should overlook having fun and enjoying the trip itself. Take the time to slow down and enjoy the experience on its own.
When it comes to long trips the drive itself is often a big part of the enjoyment. Take a moment to be mindful of the experience during the ride and to take in the scenery, especially if you’re on an empty road and there’s no traffic to worry about. You’ll be surprised how meaningful a memory this will become.