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The feel of the wind in your hair, the open road unfurling beneath your wheels, a favorite tune blasting from the speakers — nothing stokes the fire of adventure quite like a road trip. Of course, as with all types of travel, it’s best to be prepared before taking off into the setting sun. While it may sound romantic to leave with nothing but your dreams and a full tank of gas, the reality of modern travel makes that a foolish prospect at best. Here are a few pointers to ensure that your road trip is as safe and enjoyable as it is exciting.
Check Your Car Before You Leave
Before you leave on your road trip, you need to make sure that your car is going to be able to handle your trip. It’s a good idea to get everything checked out before you leave so you can fix any problems before you break down somewhere. Check all of your maintenance records to determine your last oil change, tire rotation, and any overdue parts replacement. You should also make sure that your registration and inspection are up to date, and won’t become overdue when you’re far from home. You should also plan to have a vehicular emergency fund available, just in case — you don’t want to blow your budget on an unexpected repair.
Be Your Own Safety Net
Before setting out, be sure you know how to change a tire and top off your fluids so you won’t be at the mercy of strangers. If you are headed through areas that aren’t well-populated, make sure you let someone know where you will be and create a backup plan. Nothing is worse than getting stranded. You can use a signal booster to boost cell service. Finally, remember that there’s always safety in numbers — whenever possible, find a friend to share the journey. If you are planning on traveling alone, try not to stray too far from the beaten path, particularly at night.
Do Your Research
Even if you don’t have a specific destination in mind, modern technology makes it easier to avoid tourist traps. Before choosing a hotel or a restaurant, do a quick check on Yelp or TripAdvisor. Ensure that the place has a decent reputation. You can also look at reviews from frequent travelers. They know what to look for and can give you some additional insights. While this may sound out of keeping with the freewheeling spirit, it’s simple common sense. Nothing ruins a vacation quicker than theft or a bout of food poisoning.
Don’t Drive Drowsy
This is solid advice for anyone, but should be emphasized when traveling a long distance. It can be tempting to keep pushing forward when you shouldn’t. You may have a plan that you want to stick to, but you need to listen to your body. If you are tired, resist the urge to keep pushing, and stay well rested and hydrated. Keep caffeinated beverages to a minimum, and follow the same advice for alcohol. A jittery or hung-over driver can be just as dangerous as an intoxicated one.
Remember: your road trip should be an adventure for all the right reasons, not a showcase for misfortune. Armed with a little preparation, you can make memories that last a lifetime. Bon voyage!