Summer Time Family Road Trip Prep
School's out and summer is here. Are you planning a family road trip? I know at least two families who are planning extended road trips that will be taking them more than 1500 miles round trip in the next two weeks. That's a lot of time in the car!
No matter how well you plan, you would have to be Wonder Woman not to get stressed out, trying to pack and plan and make sure everyone will be occupied during the long hours in the car. And you're not the only one: when you hit the roads to go on your summer vacation, you'll be sharing the highways and byways with a lot of other tense and weary drivers.
Here's a little food for thought to keep you a little bit saner and a lot safer during your summertime travels. Thanks to our dear friend and contributor Amy Mattinat who originally supplied these ideas for Holiday travel tips.
Let your vacation begin as soon as you sit in the car and shut the door. Take a deep breath and let yourself relax before you turn on the engine. If the driver has any anxiety and apprehension concerning the trip, then expect the passengers to pick up on the tension and add to it. Don't start the trip by saying things like: "We're gonna be on the road a long time, so don't act up! You kids better shut up and go to sleep because I am too stressed out to deal with you, etc."
Try this instead: "Starting right now, we are officially on vacation. I have lots of yummy snacks for the trip, great music (and / or books on tape, DVDs, games to play, etc) to make this a fun trip. We will be stopping every couple of hours to stretch and air everyone out! Let the fun begin!"
When packing your vehicle, make sure everything is securely stowed. Make sure you also bring along the correct roadmaps, a spare key in your wallet, and a cell phone with the phone numbers pre-programmed to anyone you might need to contact if you're running late. It's always a good idea to also pack: a car jack and tools, extra blanket, flashlight, candles, matches, jumper cables, small shovel, some kitty litter, and flares or emergency triangles. And it's always a good idea to have a contact that you check in with along the way, just in case you do have a breakdown in a remote area.
Make sure you've got plenty of healthy snacks for hungry tummies along the way. Here are some tips on healthy, calorie-conscious choices you can make while in the car, so that with a little planning, you can save money, eat nutritiously, and create some nice family memories on your summer road trip.
Whenever you stop, make sure you lock the vehicle. Always store your luggage and travel toys out of sight. It's sad to say but there are would-be thieves who take advantage of packed cars. If you can live out of your car for several days, so could they....
Do yourself a big favor and make sure your car is road worthy by taking it to the shop for a safety check in the week before your trip. Amy's top priorities are tires, brakes, lights, windshield wipers, cooling system, and the reliability of the car to start every time you turn it on.
Leave yourself some extra time on your vacation travel schedule to stop and enjoy the sights along the way. Who knows when the next time will be that you'll be passing the Cadillac Ranch? Get out and check it out!
Try to scope out the weather before you head out. Visit the Federal Highway Administration's National Traffic and Road Closure Information site at www.fhwa.dot.gov/trafficinfo/ for links to information on weather and road conditions.
Summer thunder storms can sometimes hit without warning. If you encounter bad weather, please slow down. Wet, slippery roads require a lot more space between you and the vehicle in front to stop. There will also be more commercial vehicles on the road. Remember that they are a lot heavier then your little car and need much more time and distance to stop. And if you're traveling behind a commercial vehicle, don't tailgate. It's frustrating to the driver who can't see you in his rear-view mirror, and dangerous to you.
If you start out on your trip tired, you are going to get heavy-eyed as the miles go by. Try and get a good night's sleep before your trip. If you are driving a long distance, it helps to have a passenger who likes to talk.
Here are some early warning signs of exhaustion and pending danger:
* Repeated yawning
* Difficulty focusing
* Your rear end if going numb and you feel incredibly restless
* Not remembering the last few miles driven
* Missing traffic signs and turns
* Hitting the rumble strips on the highway
What to do if you're exhausted:
* Find somewhere to pull over ASAP. A restaurant, gas station, or rest area is best.
* Drink some coffee but understand it takes about 30 minutes for the caffeine to kick in. (This is why it's great to have your own in-car traveling espresso machine. Fresh coffee ANYWHERE!)
* Go for a walk or do some exercises to get rid of grogginess.
* Find a safe place and take a brief nap for at least 30 minutes.
And don't forget before you head back home to re-check the tire pressure, oil, coolant, and make sure the windshield, mirrors, headlights and tail lights are clean!