1. Prepare your car
Be sure to prepare your vehicle for the trip. It will be your home away from home. Plan at least a month in advance for any unexpected repairs. Check the following and adjust if necessary:
- Tire pressure
- Spare tire
- Belts, plugs, hoses and filters
- Lights, signals, all wiper blades and washer fluid
2. Prepare yourself
Remember to be as ready to go as your vehicle. Tell people where you are going and get a good night’s sleep before the trip. Also, it is important to check the range of your cell phone and make sure you can reach emergency responders from where you are traveling. Before the trip, it is good to familiarize yourself with the routes you will be traveling and the weather forecast. Be sure to wear comfortable clothes and pack what you need:
- First aid kit
- Water and snacks
- Blankets and pillows
- Jump leads and flares
- Brochures and travel maps
- Tool kit and cutting tools
- Chains or other traction gear (especially for winter driving)
- Waterproof matches
- CDs or books on tape
3. Book or check hotels in the area.
If you plan to stay overnight, simplify things by doing the following:
- Make reservations if you have an idea of what your destination will be for the night. What if there is a concert or festival nearby? Make sure you can find a room at a decent price.
- Plan the location of hotels in advance. You will save time and gasoline by not having to get in and out of exits and stop at different hotels to find out rates and availability.
- If you wait until you are on your way to get a room, make sure it is early or mid-afternoon when you call to make reservations. Most hotels start filling up in the late afternoon and early evening.
- Look for hotels that provide family discounts or discounts for car clubs and warehouses.
4. Be smart with gas mileage
As gas prices rise, you may find yourself with less money to spend on travel. Here are some tips for saving money on gas:
- Reduce acceleration. For example, when going from 0 to 60 mph, reducing the acceleration time to 15 seconds can save 30 percent on gasoline.
- Try to buy gasoline during the cooler hours of the day. Gasoline is thicker during these times.
- Maintain a moderate speed. If you travel at 55 miles per hour, you will save about 21% more on gas consumption than if you travel 10-15 miles more.
- Keep windows closed when traveling at high speeds. Opening windows can reduce fuel consumption by up to 10%, which can be as much as air conditioning.
- Avoid driving on rough roads, which can reduce fuel consumption by 30%.
- Cool automatic transmissions by putting them in neutral at long traffic lights or stops.
- Remove excess weight from the car-this too can reduce fuel consumption.
- Make sure your tires are pressurized to the manufacturer’s maximum limit.
- Know the estimated cost of fuel for the trip: visit the fuel cost calculator.
5. Be safe and alert while traveling
The final step to safe travel is to be really safe and careful while traveling. Remember that you want to avoid all the emergencies you have just planned for. Therefore, keep the following in mind as you travel:
- Examine the road for hazards.
- Be aware of and cautious of drivers who are following you closely or who are aggressive.
- Avoid stopping on the shoulder unless it is an emergency, especially at night.
- Make sure you have enough fuel between trips.
- Take breaks and stretch at well-lit rest stops to avoid falling asleep at the wheel.
- Try listening to music or rolling down the window if you feel tired.
- Share driving responsibilities to avoid fatigue or road hypnosis.
Finally, relax and remember why you planned the trip. It is always good to try to enjoy the road as much as the destination. Whether it is a business or leisure trip, you can make it worthwhile.