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Tips for Summer Road Trips

Summer will be here before you know it, and one way to enjoy the warm weather is by taking a road trip. Whether you take your trip alone, with a friend or your spouse, or with your entire family, long car trips are a great way to see different areas of the country without having to spend a lot of money on airfares, which are often more expensive in the summer. If you are planning a road trip this summer, here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Do some planning… A road trip can run the gamut from flying down the open road with just a few changes of clothes and a cooler in the backseat, seeing where the journey takes you, to a planned vacation where you book hotels and make dinner reservations, to anything in between. The key to a successful road trip is to determine which type of trip you want. If you don’t want to map out your entire route, at least make a plan as to which direction you’re heading in, how long you want to be gone, and a few attractions along the way. If you do want a more formal plan, then start finding hotels along the way and make a sketch of what days and times you will be in which areas, so you can make up your itinerary.

  • …but not too much! Part of the beauty of road-tripping is that you can see where the road leads without worrying too much about unplanned diversions taking up too much time or taking you off of the path. Be sure to leave plenty of time in your schedule for simply enjoying and digesting what the region that you’re visiting has to offer! It might be a good strategy to choose a few attractions and then just let the rest of the trip happen.

  • Keep safety in mind. If you are a woman traveling alone or with a female partner, consider the locations that you’ll be driving through, particularly at night. Switch off driving if you have a travel partner (or group). This is particularly important if you’re driving at night, when fatigue can set in. If you feel tired while driving, pull over! Driving drowsy can be just as dangerous as driving tipsy. Carry an extra set of keys in your purse or pocket, just in case the set you’re using gets lost or locked in the car. Also make sure that you have a first aid kid, roadside flares, jumper cables, food and a few gallons of water just in case you break down in a remote area. Make sure your cell phone is fully charged before you leave on your trip, and have a car charger with you.  Try to minimize the chance that you’ll run into problems, but have a contingency plan in case you do!

  • Don’t forget the summertime necessities. If you’re bringing food along, keep a cooler packed with ice. Take your bathing suit (or two), sunscreen, sunglasses, aloe (for the inevitable sunburn) and a couple of towels per person. Pack several light outfits; the good things about packing in the summer is that you can fit more in your suitcase, and the clothing can be hand washed and will dry overnight. Also bring one light dressy outfit, in case you find yourself wanting to try a fancy restaurant or have the opportunity to attend an event that requires nicer clothing. Also, bring shampoo, conditioner and soap; you can always shower at campgrounds or even at a truck stop.

  • Prepare Your Car. It goes without saying that prior to the trip make sure you have had a recent oil change where they check all fluids including transmission, break and power steering fluid as well as coolant. During the oil change they normally also check your hoses, belts and tire pressure.  Keep an eye on the car’s temperature and stop if it starts to overheat. If you can’t stop right away, open the windows and turn on the heater, as this will temporarily help in many cases.

  • Try to eat healthy. Resist the temptation to hit drive through after drive through, as this will make you tired, groggy and may give you stomach upset that’s not fun to deal with on the open road. Pack fruits and veggies, and stop for fresh sandwiches and salads. Good snacks to bring include raisins or other dried fruit, nuts and low fat cheese. Don’t forget to get some exercise, too; every couple of hours, get out of the car and walk around for a bit, stretching your muscles and getting your blood flowing.

If you are nervous about your first road trip, there are companies such as Monograms travel that have a selection of pre-set driving vacation itineraries where your hotel and suggested itinerary are mapped out for you.

Do you take road trips in the summer? Share your best tips with our readers.