It is the time of year when some say summer begins. Memorial Day Weekend. Many of us are hitting the road to take that first camping trip or mini vacations, while others are headed out to celebrate our military and veterans. Whatever your plans are, AAA predicts that 37.2 million Americans will be on the road in their trucks, cars, SUV’s, motorcycles, and RV’s. With that kind of traffic just for Memorial Day, imagine the Fourth of July and other summer weekends. This is can be a recipe for travel disaster if you aren’t properly prepared.
So what can you do to be road ready for your long trip? First, make sure your vehicle is properly maintained. Heading out on the road with a vehicle that is not road ready can lead to a car-tastrophe. Get an oil change if your vehicle is due. Have your tires inspected to make sure they have proper air pressure and tread? Fuel up so you don’t have to stop along the way. Make sure you have proper fluid levels for your brakes, transmission, and radiator, as well as the differentials if you have a 4×4.
Map your route if you are not familiar with the trek, or if you are unsure which route will yield the least amount of traffic. Consider leaving earlier or later than peak travel times if your schedule will allow it. This will make your travel timeless and your drive more enjoyable as you will avoid the stop/go of heavy traffic. Be sure to also check your route for closures or road construction that may be avoidable.
If you are traveling with children, be sure they have the proper safety seating such as infant or toddler car seats or boosters. It may benefit you to make note of rest areas, especially for parents that are potty training. Keep plenty of snacks and fluids available for your little ones to avoid frequent stops if you allow eating in your car, truck, or SUV. This will help keep them entertained as well. If your vehicle doesn’t have a DVD system, consider a portable one for entertainment. Some can be purchased for under $100 aftermarket.
If you should encounter an accident or road hazard, be prepared. Carry jumper cables, a spare tire, road flares, phone charger, cell phone (keep it charged), and the number of your mechanic in case anything questionable should arise. You may also want to keep items such as food and water in your vehicle in case you may become stranded, and a seatbelt cutter if in the unimaginable case you may become stuck after an accident.
Be sure to leave plenty of space between you and the vehicle in front of you especially if traffic is heavy to avoid rear-ending them, this also gives you a cushion if someone behind you is approaching you too quickly. Be a defensive driver and remember to follow road laws in your city and state. Also be mindful of weather conditions. With a little preparation and careful driving, you can have a safe and fun holiday travel season.