Keys for a Successful Road-Trip

Americans have always been fascinated by adventure. In the 19th century, we decided to plunge ahead with the discovery of the west, adopting the philosophy of manifest destiny. Since the complete settlement of the U.S., individuals have not been stopped from crossing each other’s paths in search of new, exciting locales. To explore the vastness of the U.S., the freedom and adventure offered by a road-trip is unparalleled. For a successful road trip, there are some basic guidelines you can follow.

Most importantly, preparation for a road-trip is paramount, beginning with your car. Your car, if not already, will be your best friend during your juncture on the road. Do not take it for granted. It is advisable to get the basics taken care of before you go. Make sure the oil is changed, the tires are properly inflated, as this will increase gas efficiency, and plenty of windshield washer fluid is available. If you suspect your car has problems, or if you have been ignoring that unidentifiable squeak for the past few weeks, get your car inspected before your trip. Nothing sours a road-trip more than a car that breaks down or even threatens to break down. Ease your mind and take care of those chores before departing.

Once your car is set, figure out the route to your destination. The Internet offers a plethora of geographical resources; finding a map that lays out your route is painless. Their benefits are that they can provide the exact mileage and estimated travel time, which, however, is questionable in many cases. Therefore, strictly relying on the directions provided by an Internet map route can cause problems. For instance, the maps can plot routes that pass through major cities during peak rush hour times, or they ignore highways burdened with construction delays. A smart solution is to sign up with a traveler’s service company such as AAA. There is a small yearly membership fee, but the company offers worthwhile benefits. AAA will customize a route for your road trip and send you a package in the mail. It will include detailed maps illustrating major construction zones, alternate highways to bypass city traffic, and interesting demographic information for each major city you pass. Additionally, there are countless hotels and motels in the U.S. that accept the AAA card for a discount on a room. Your car’s maintenance is up to par, your maps are in hand, now you have to decide what to bring for the ride.

Bring the essentials and some entertainment for your trip, but try not to overland your car with superfluous supplies such as that third pair of headphones. Besides, a car with less weight will be more fuel efficient and easier to manually navigate. Pack your clothes, toiletries, some snacks, fluids, especially water, and your cell phone and its charger. If you don’t have a cell phone, stick a few flairs in your trunk. Should you get stranded without a phone, say, during a snowstorm, flairs are your best option for attracting help. Don’t forget a credit card in case you run out of cash for gas, lodging, or food. For pleasure, bring a variety of cds, and figure out a playing rotation ahead of time with those joining you on your trip. A comedy cd always is a unique way to pass the time. If children are coming along, video games, personal cd players, or portable dvd players are sure to keep them busy. Invent some games along the way, debate sports or politics, or even play the state capitals game. If anything, road trips are beneficial because during the hours you spend together, you get to know your friends or family members that much better. After taking care of entertainment and supplies, there are other general tips of which you should be aware.

It is necessary to remain healthy during your trip. Aside from boredom and conflict, you also want to avoid becoming ill on or from your trip. Drink a lot of water, and when you stop for food, try to incorporate some sort of variety in your diet of beef jerky, cheeseburgers, and ice cream. Realistically, if you have a longer trip, you’ll probably get tired of eating all of that junk food, so a salad or some cold cereal are good substitutes along the way. If you keep the fast food in moderation, you should escape upset stomachs or heartburn, conditions you would rather not endure for hours on the road. Moreover, it is vital to stretch your legs adequately. It is recommended that travelers, whether flying or driving, walk around at least once every two hours in order to circulate blood flow in the legs. Otherwise, the possibility exists of developing Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT), a serious medical condition resulting from improper blood circulation in the legs. DVT is when blood clots can form in your legs and eventually lodge themselves in other areas of your body, such as your lungs, which can be fatal. Even though you’ll want to make the best time on the road, it is best to stop every couple of hours to stretch, use the restroom, get gas, a snack, visit a landmark, or take some pictures. Most people look forward to rest stops if for nothing else, they break up the monotony of the trip. There are a few other tips that will keep you healthy and going strong on your trip.

Realize that your body has limits, and that driving for hours in a car can be taxing. It is crucial to get enough sleep the night before a long road trip, at least six hours. While sitting down with a hand on a wheel all day may seem like a passive task, it is surprising how exhausted you will feel after a ten hour stretch on the road. If you drink coffee to help perk you up, be aware that when the caffeine wears off, you may “crash” and feel even more tired than before. Switch off the driving assignments with others if you can. Also, be aware that if the person riding shotgun begins to nod off, that can dangerously become contagious for the driver, as he too might fall asleep quicker that way. Know your body, your limitations, and how far you can continue driving. If you feel you cannot keep your eyes open, pull over and sleep, or if you can make it, find lodging for the night. It is usually best not to drive too late into the night, but again, that’s up to personal preference. Some feel that driving in darkness promotes lethargy at the wheel while others favor nighttime driving because of reduced traffic. The key goal is to be safe and take all of these factors into consideration.

There you have it. You’re revved up, your car is in great shape, you packed all of the staples, you’re ready to answer America’s beckoning. You’ve figured out the fastest route that will put you in the records book, all the while impressively keeping under the speed limit. You won’t tailgate those tractor-trailers because you do not want them to kick up any rocks onto your windshield. You’re looking forward to your rest stops, you’re going to check out some sites along the way, and you’ll get plenty of sleep the night before you drive. Now that you’re prepared for your road trip, enjoy exploring America as our forefathers surely did.

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