With so many Americans jet-setting for vacations in far-off places and tropical beaches, you would think that the classic American road-trip is a thing of the past. But actually, it’s not the case at all. Fuel prices keep airline tickets high and hotel rates skyrocket in the summer during peak months, so it’s usually more cost effective for a family to hop in the car and take a road trip. Statistically speaking, more than ever are American’s hitting the road for trips and family visits – more frequently, but for a shorter period of time.
The adventure of a road trip lingers in the hot summer air, so enjoy every minute of your trip. Almost embedded in every American is the sense of adventure and excitement of traveling to a new destination, while seeing all the beauty the country has to offer.
Road Trip Tips You Won’t Want to Miss
Check Your Fluid Levels
To stay safe on your journey, it’s important to check your vehicle’s fluid levels before hitting the open road. Make sure your oil is clean (not thick and black) and topped off. Another fluid that may fly under the radar is coolant. Especially in the summer, you want to prevent your vehicle from overheating while you’re sitting in traffic or driving on hot open roads. It’s no secret that visibility is critical while you’re driving and can help prevent accidents, so be sure to top off your windshield wiper fluid. Bugs, rain, dust, and occasional bird droppings can lower your visibility and make it hard to see the road ahead of you.
Drive the speed limit
Nothing like a speeding ticket to put a damper on your vacation. You can try, “But officer, I was driving with the flow of traffic” to talk yourself out of a speeding ticket, but most likely the state trooper who pulls you over won’t be very happy to hear that phrase. Stay safe by driving the speed limit. This is incredibly important when you are traveling on roads that are unfamiliar, because you may never know what kind of turns are ahead.
Watch for construction sites
In Maryland, we all know that highway construction is a never-ending project for the beltway around Baltimore. It’s inevitable that while driving to the beach or along I-95 through D.C. there will be a massive amount of road construction, and therefore, heavy traffic. Plan ahead and account for extra driving time due to construction, road closures, and detours.
Don’t ignore warning lights
Even if you topped off your fluids and got your vehicle checked by a mechanic before your road trip, make sure you listen to your car. Warning lights on the dashboard are not a suggestion, but should be taken seriously when you are putting a lot of miles on your tires. Your tire pressure indicator can help determine if you have a leaky tire, ran over a sharp object, or if the weather is affecting your tires. Don’t ignore your engine light – that can mean a lot of different things, but you’ll want to stop and check it out as soon as you can so you don’t damage your engine, overheat your vehicle, or cause larger issues. It should go without saying, but never ignore your gas light! In an unfamiliar city or town, you never know when you are going to see the next gas station, so fill up when you have the chance.
Plan your stops
Planning your trip and knowing where you are going to stop along the way will help your trip go a lot smoother and will break up long legs in the journey. Along the east coast, it’s easy to plan meal breaks at a Cracker Barrell or Waffle House. But if you are travelling out west, look at maps and see what is available along your trip. Planning a stretch break every couple hundred miles will make the trip seem less strenuous and prevent any accidents that are associated with exhaustion.
Clean Your Car Before you Leave
While this may not affect your car’s ability to drive long distances, it provides a clean slate for your trip and gives you extra room for bags, car activities for kids, and everything can be stored away securely and safely. Having loose items in your car can prove to be dangerous in an accident, because while you and your loved ones are safely buckled in, things like a tissue box, old cups, and random things in your backseat aren’t – so when you stop short, there’s the possibility that those items will go flying and can hit the driver or passenger.