by Jenean McLoskey ( Foremost Insurance)
Map out your route, noting places to stop for gas, food, restroom breaks and sightseeing along the way. Make sure the route you’re planning to take is open and in decent condition. It’s a good idea to bring a physical map along as well in case your GPS acts up.
Check the forecast.
Look at weather reports for the route you plan to take so you know what to expect on the road. Even if the forecast for your area looks good, weather can be significantly different in other parts of the country.
Prep your vehicle.
Inspect your tires (including your spare), fill your gas tank and windshield wiper fluid, check your oil level and clean the inside of your car. Also, place a small plastic bag in the car for trash disposal during your trip.
Keep money on hand.
Bring some cash along in case you run into a toll road or a situation where you aren’t able to use a credit card.
If you’re riding with other licensed passengers, consider trading places every few hours to reduce the strain and responsibility of being behind the wheel and to keep each person alert.
Take frequent breaks.
It’s important to stop and stretch about every two hours. You can also fill up the gas tank, grab a snack or use the restroom. Some great places to pull over are state-sponsored rest areas, gas stations, restaurants and parks.
In order to save money and have an option other than fast food, bring some sandwiches in a cooler to eat as one of your meals. Also, be sure to pack plenty of snacks, which help satisfy hunger between meals and offer something to do while driving. Filling snack options include granola or protein bars, nuts, jerky and crackers.
Remember the drinks.
Pack plenty of waters and other drink options to keep you hydrated and avoid having to stop for a beverage. Gum, mints and hard candies also help keep you alert and quench thirst so you aren’t making extra restroom stops.
Tip: Freeze some of the water bottles ahead of time and use them to keep all of your drinks cold
Make scenic stops.
This is America, home to some of the most beautiful and iconic scenery in the world. If you can allow a little extra time during your trip, plan a pit stop or two. It will break up the drive and allow the opportunity to see some interesting things along the route. Plus, who doesn’t love a good photo op?
Wear loose, comfortable clothing and shoes that allow your feet to breathe. You should also pack blankets and small pillows that may be used as extra cushioning when not needed for warmth or resting.
Find some entertainment.
If you’re driving alone, find a radio station you like or listen to an audiobook. If you have passengers, strike up a conversation about world news, movies you’ve seen, or talk about personal likes and dislikes.
Remember, driving for long periods can be mentally straining so hopefully these tips will help keep you alert and aware until you reach your destination. And who knows? Maybe your journey can be part of the fun!