Road Tripping: Your Summer Safety Atlas
by Ivy Burke
Itís time to get out of town. Summerís halfway over, and you probably havenít done everything you and friends swore youíd do once the weather changed. Or you have done everything --twice-- and youíre bored with the local surroundings. You donít need to settle for more of the same. August doesnít need to be a third-rate June. Itís a big world. Get out and see it. Take a late-season road trip.
Of course, it isnít so easy as that. Road trips require a fair amount of planning. Good preparation can keep your trip breezy and relaxing. Follow these tips to stay safe and sane while youíre on the road.
First, the obvious stuff. Drive safely. Donít get carried away with that everything-goes feeling. Keep in mind the fundamentals. Donít text while driving (and that includes switching Spotify playlists on your iPhone!). Donít drive drunk. Make sure your insurance is updated, and that youíve got proper documentation for you car. Keep an eye your fuel gage, etc. You know these things already, but itís easy to forget daily habits when youíre having fun. Ignoring the basic rules of the road is negligence, Mani Ellis & Layne remind us.
Take advantage of technology. Your app store is overflowing with nifty gadgets to help you and your friends do whatever it you do want to do. These gadgets can also prevent you from getting in a bind, or help you out one.
- Weather apps. Go beyond your default. Youíll need accurate and up-to-date information if youíre going to stay safe and reach your destination on time.
- Paper maps. Low tech is still tech. Yes, youíll likely be using your phone map app for the most part, but remember to keep a road atlas handy for those out-of-the-way spots.
- Business-finding and rating apps. Youíll need to eat, sleep, and gas up regularly. Use your phone to find highly-rated restaurants and hotels for cheap.
Itís amazing how often people forget to get their cars checked and tuned up before putting them to the test. Get your oil changed and your tires rotated. Wash your headlights. Tell your mechanic how far youíre planning to drive, and ask if your car is up to the challenge. You donít want to break down halfway across the country, rely on a stranger to look after your car, or to have to spend a lot of money renting one just to get home.
Also, get to know your car. Read the userís manual, familiarize yourself with the various dashboard warning lights, know how to do basic maintenance like adding oil to your engine or change your windshield wipers. Youíll spare yourself a catastrophe if you can quickly troubleshoot an odd sound or smell.
If you do find yourself at the mercy of an unfamiliar mechanic, check Yelp! ratings. Get a second opinion if think youíre being taken for a sucker.
Your Destinationís Driving Conditions
If youíre travelling a great distance, chances are youíll encounter alien driving conditions. If youíve never been on a narrow mountain road, for instance, a sudden slim slope can be terrifying. Think ahead, visit the stateís Department of Transportation site for tips. Be prepared.