5 Essential Road Travel Tips You Don't Already Know

Written by Staff Writer

1. Prepare Your Car

Make sure to prepare your vehicle for travel. It will be your home away from home. Plan at least a month in advance for any unforeseen repairs. Check the following and adjust if needed:

  • Coolant
  • Oil
  • Tire Pressure
  • Spare Tire
  • Brakes
  • Belts, caps, hoses and filters
  • Lights, signals, all wiper blades and windshield wiper fluid

2. Prepare Yourself

Remember you need to be just as ready to hit the road as your vehicle. Tell people where you're going and get a good night sleep before your trip. Also, it is important to check your cell phone range and make sure you can reach emergency operators from wherever you are traveling. Before your trip, become familiar with the routes you're traveling and the weather forecast. Make sure to wear comfortable clothes and pack the necessities:

  • First aid kit
  • Water and snacks
  • Blankets and pillows
  • Jumper cables and flares
  • Travel brochures and maps
  • Tool kit and cutting tool
  • Chains or something for traction (especially for winter driving)
  • Waterproof matches
  • CDs or books on tape

3. Make Reservations or Check Hotels in the Area

If you plan on stopping for overnight rest, make it easier by doing the following:

  • Make reservations if you have an idea of where your destination will be for the night. What if there is a nearby concert or festival of some sort? You want to make sure you are able to get a room at a decent price.
  • Plan ahead for hotel locations. You will save time and gas not having to get on and off exits, and stopping at different hotels to find out the rates and availability.
  • If you are waiting till you are on the road to get a room, make sure it is in the early to mid afternoon when you call to make reservations. Most hotels will start filling up during the late afternoon, early evening hours.
  • Check for hotels that have family discounts or automotive club and warehouse club discounts.

4. Be Smart With Gas Mileage

With gas prices on the rise, you may find yourself with less spending money on the road. Here are some tips to save on gas:

  • Slow down your acceleration. For example, when going from 0–60 mph, slow down your acceleration time to 15 seconds and you can save 30% on gas mileage.
  • Try to purchase your gas at the coolest time of day. Gas is densest at these times.
  • Maintain a moderate speed. If you travel at 55 mph you will save close to 21% more on your gas mileage versus traveling 10-15 miles over.
  • Keep windows closed while traveling at high speeds. Having open windows can reduce your gas mileage up to 10%, which can be the same as air conditioning.
  • Avoid driving on rough roads, they can decrease your gas mileage by 30%.
  • Cool down automatic transmitions by placing them in neutral at long traffic lights or traffic standstills.
  • Remove excess weight from your car — that can also reduce gas mileage.
  • Make sure tires are pressurized to the maximum limit provided by the manufacturer.
  • Know the estimated cost of fuel for your trip: visit the Fuel Cost Calculator.

For more tips on getting the best gas mileage, click here: Best Gas Mileage

5. Be Safe and Alert While Traveling

The final step to road trip safety is actually being safe and alert while on the road. Remember, you want to avoid all of the emergencies you just planned for. So take the following into consideration on your commute:

  • Scan the road for hazards
  • Be aware and cautious of tailgaters or aggressive drivers
  • Avoid pulling over on the side of the road unless it is an emergency — especially at night
  • Make sure you have plenty of gas between exits
  • Take breaks and stretch at well lit rest stops to avoid falling asleep at the wheel
  • Try listening to music or rolling the window down if you feel tired
  • Share driving responsibilities to avoid fatigue or highway hypnosis

Finally, relax and remember why you planned your trip in the first place. It is always good to try and enjoy the road as much as the destination. If your travel is for business or pleasure, you can make anything worth the trip.

SafeMotorist.com Driving Safety Articles: This article was written by SafeMotorist.com defensive driving staff writers and reviewed for accuracy by defensive driving instructors. All articles are based on current traffic laws and defensive driving practices. This article is intended for educational purposes only, and should not be taken as legal advice or literal interpretation of any specific traffic law.