5 Tips for a Safe and Fun Road Trip

Pick a destination the map. Grab some friends. Throw some clothes in a bag. Gas up the car. Road trip!

At least, that’s how it goes in the movies. Road trips are characterized as sudden, spur of the moment excursions that offer unparalleled excitement and adventure. And while the excitement and adventure part can certainly be true, you probably aren’t going to have a trip unfold in such a spontaneous fashion. In order for it to be safe and fun, you need to do a little planning.

5 Tips for Road Trip Success

Whether it’s a trip to the beach with your best friend or a trip from coast to coast with your entire family, a road trip is a distinctly American activity that everyone needs to try at least once. But if you want it to be considered a success, you need to be safe and have fun.

Here are some tips to help you accomplish these goals:

  1. Don’t Over-pack

Assuming that you aren’t going on a road trip alone, space will probably be limited in your vehicle. If nothing else, you don’t want a bunch of junk filling up every nook and cranny of the car. So instead of throwing everything you possibly can into your bags, be strategic with how you pack. There are certain items you definitely want to include, but avoid the temptation to pack multiples of everything.
An important thing to carry, however, is a stocked first-aid kit in case of any injuries. You don’t want to be driving (or running) around in a new place searching for medical supplies. Ensure that the kit has everything you may need to provide immediate medical care for minor injuries or health issues; things like a finger band aid (or two), antiseptic liquid, your general medication, etc. should all be packed into the first-aid kit.

  1. Give Your Vehicle a Tune-Up

Few things are more frustrating than having your vehicle breakdown in the middle of a road trip. Whether it’s a lonesome highway in the middle of the flyover states, or a crowded city block in rush hour traffic, car problems are never convenient.

Before leaving for your road trip, it’s a good idea to have your vehicle inspected. If nothing else, you should check some of the key components yourself. This includes the oil, engine coolant, tires, and brakes. Then, once you know your vehicle is good for the journey, focus on your car accessories. Many road trips require items like roof racks or kayak racks for example, especially if you are going for a seaside escape. Make sure you are getting some quality accessories, similar to those at Top Gear Advice, to prevent anything coming loose during the drive.

  1. Be Careful With Unfamiliar Areas

When you’re on the interstate, driving is pretty easy. However, things change when you get off the main roads and find yourself navigating backstreets and city blocks. Washington D.C. is a prime example. As attorney and local Michael Abelson points out, out-of-town visitors often have trouble with traffic circles, one-way streets, and confusing turns. Other cities offer similar challenges.

When you find yourself in an unfamiliar area, turn down the music and ask your friend in the passenger seat to help you navigate. Not only will this keep you safer, but it’ll reduce your stress level significantly.

  1. Know When to Pull Over and Sleep

On long road trips, there’s a temptation to keep driving so that you can make progress. Progress is fine, but it shouldn’t come at the expense of your safety. Know when to pull over and get some sleep (or let someone else drive). There will always be time to get some more miles under your belt tomorrow.

  1. Leave Room for Spontaneity

Up until this point, we’ve discussed your road trip in very practical and matter-of-fact terms, but it’s okay – even encouraged – to leave room for spontaneity. If you spend your entire trip trying to get from one point to the next, your road trip will be filled with pressure and anxiety.

Plan the Ultimate Road Trip

It probably sounds like something your mom would say, but in order for a road trip to be fun, it needs to be safe. When you plan for safety, you don’t have to worry about making dangerous mistakes that compromise the integrity of the trip. As a result, you’re free up to focus on the adventures and camaraderie that come with traveling.