The United States is approximately 2,944 miles long (east to west) and 1,734 miles wide (north to south). That is around 68 hours of driving time; enough time to listen to approximately 85 music albums, stop at at least one of the nation’s 13,918 McDonalds and take 204 twenty-minute power naps.
But why should you really go on a road trip?
The United States has exactly 58 National Parks and 155 National Forests where you catch an eye full of unbelievable sights, unique wildlife and learn about some incredible history.
Best of all, road tripping offers the freedom to explore this great nation and discover how and where the rest of the country’s 318.9 million citizens live. Road trips are a great way to go out and have fun, and the potential for adventure is practically limitless. You can do anything from a couple of days up to months, all based on what you want to experience.
Before you plan the route, pack the trunk and fill the tank. There are precautionary measures that should be addressed to ensure a well prepared, safe and memorable trip. Always remember, safety first. Below are 6 safe driving, and road trip tips to keep in mind when planning your great escape.
1. Check the conditions
Before driving out into the great unknown, check local and national weather sources so you can prepare for potentially dangerous road conditions. Every state has a Department of Transportation (DOT) website and phone number where inquiries can be made on road closures, conditions and construction. Consider taking down the phone numbers for the DOTs of states you’ll be passing through, or pick up a local paper to check their forecast and weather-related events. Being aware of the weather is very important and is a really good road trip tip.
2. Don’t advertise your trip
Leaving roadmaps on dashboards, writing “Road Trip 2015” on your windows in puffy paint, or stuffing your car to the brim with luggage screams “I’m not from here”. Which, to some people, can be an invite to cause mischief. Take all valuable items sitting in plain sight to your room at night and park in areas with surveillance cameras.
Similarly, be cautious when posting on social media when on vacation, allowing others to know your house and belongings are vacant.
3. Heed the hotels
There are two things to keep in mind when juggling hotel options:
- When staying overnight at a roadside hotel, try to avoid staying on the bottom floor. Not only will the noise level likely be reduced, but you can also have an overview of the parking lot.
- Consider staying in hotels that offer a refund policy for early check out. Or a hotel that offers late check out, just in case you need more sleep for the road.
4. Prepare a safety kit:
However you plan to pack your trunk, always save room (within easy reach) for a decent car safety kit. In the event of a broken-down car, a road closure or a serious storm, these important items will come in very handy:
- tire iron
- fire extinguisher
- first-aid kit
- solar blanket
- bottled water
- Jumper cables
5. Check your car’s vitals
Unless you want to risk making it 100 miles out of town and having your car putt out on you, checking all your cars essentials is a must-do. Whether you do it yourself or take it to a professional, ensure that your car has sufficient fluid levels, strong belts, hoses, appropriate tire pressure (even in the spare), working headlights/tail lights, good tires, and adequate windshield wipers. It is always better to spend some money being prepared and safe rather than being broken down somewhere. This is a very important road trip tip.
6. Cover your bases
Lastly, call your bank to let them know which states you will be visiting. Without informing them of your travel plans, you risk having your credit card flagged for fraudulent activity in an abnormal location. Verify that you have sufficient funds in the appropriate account for gas, food and lodging you’ll need on the road.
Furthermore, make sure you have access to a cell phone when road tripping. Contact your provider to inquire about roaming fees, countrywide coverage and long distant calling. No matter what, being able to keep in touch with family, friends and emergency assistance is vital to ensure a safe, happy trip.