If you haven’t already taken advantage of your vacation time this summer, we recommend doing it soon! Summer is down to its last month, and with that being said, it’s time to travel. Take a look at these road trip tips by Travel Channel, plan accordingly, drive safely, and have fun.
Car Safety - Prepping for Your Trip
To stay in touch with work and home, as well as handle unexpected events on the road, a cell phone is essential. Before leaving on your trip, ask your service provider about roaming fees and countrywide coverage.
Whether you do it yourself or go to a garage, pre-trip auto maintenance is key to comfortable cruising. Check the wiper blades, all fluid levels (oil, water, etc.), belt and hose connections, tire pressure, turn signals, horn and headlights. If your car is still not instilling confidence, consider an all-out professional inspection.
Exactly how prepared you want to be as far as your in-car tool kit is up to you, but a few items go without saying (OK, we'll say them anyway). The following should always be within easy reach when you open your trunk door: a tire iron, bottled water, fire extinguisher, first-aid kit and reflectors/flares.
Just because you have a spare tire doesn't mean it's in working order. Give it a good look before hitting the road to ensure it's properly pumped and the treads are intact. If you've got the space, swap out doughnut tires for a full-size spare.
Calculating Gas Mileage
Fuel costs are one of the easiest road-trip expenditures to calculate in advance. And knowing how much you're likely to spend driving from Point A to Point B goes a long way when it comes to deciding whether to include detours along your route.
If you know how many miles your car generally gets per gallon, it's easy to measure estimated fuel costs. You can reference a site such as AAA's Fuel Cost Calculator, inputting your car make and model and your trip's start and end points to get an estimate of the overall gas costs.
To figure it out yourself with a calculator, follow these easy steps:
- Before you leave for your trip, zero out your car's trip odometer (push the little knob under your odometer) to measure your gas consumption on a full tank around town. When your tank is near empty, divide the mileage driven by the number of gallons it took to fill the tank to get your average mileage per gallon. This is Sum A
- Now determine the length of your trip using a Web site such as Google Maps. The number of miles is Sum B.
- Next, find out current gas prices by visiting AAA's Fuel Gauge Report, which gives national average prices: The dollar per gallon price is Sum C.
- Here comes the algebra: Divide the total miles of your trip (Sum B) by the miles per gallon that your car uses (Sum A). Then multiply that total by the average price of gas per gallon (Sum C). The final number is your forecasted fuel expenditure.
Surviving a Road Trip With Kids
For families traveling with young kids in tow, that redundant "Are we there yet?" mantra can spin you into insanity like a Cyndi Lauper CD stuck on a repeat. Here go a few hints to help divert attention elsewhere:
Start a scavenger Hunt
Prevent back-seat brawls by giving young passengers a list of items to look for along the road. In cities, think flashing traffic lights or black-and-white pedestrian crosswalks. In the countryside, have them scout for a grain silo or a cow that's lying down. The more elusive the items, the longer the fun (and the peace) will last.
Play the License Plate Game
This perennial road-trip favorite is sure to keep them focused (for a while, anyway); you can up the ante by awarding bonus points for sightings of license plates from Mexico, Hawaii and Canada.
Music to the Rescue
A family sing-a-long can neutralize nitpicking by putting the focus elsewhere (how about a long and laborious version of '99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall'?). When things get chaotic, switching to classical music or talk shows with calm personalities (think NPR) can lead to an overall calming effect in the car.
We're not saying food should be used Pavlov-style to induce good behavior, but a juice box or stick of string cheese pulled out at precisely the right moment can work wonders when it comes to tantrum control. Ginger snaps are a great snack food that works double-time by helping combat carsickness.
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