The lazy, hazy days of summer are directly in front of us. So are road trips full of family fun and fights over who’s touching the other sibling in the back seat, who’s personal space is infringed upon and doesn’t want to watch a certain DVD. In the old days, we just had the license plate guessing game, a book to read unless you got carsick like one of my sisters did. In that case the guessing game was how long she’d be able to ride before tossing her last meal into the plastic pail while we motored on.
While everyone probably should carry a plastic pail – for the beach or another backseat barfer – Edmunds.com compiled five tips to add to a safer, and hopefully stress-free road trip.
1) Check the Car – Are your tires properly inflated? Do your oil and fluid levels need to be topped off? Is the AC working properly? If you need a tune-up you can find a repair shop in your area, or if you’re really ambitious, Edmunds.com can help with do-it-yourself car maintenance tips.
2) Cater to the Kids – Nothing can ruin a family road trip quite like a cranky kid. If your child sleeps well in a car, consider leaving at bedtime or during early morning hours. Bring healthy snacks and water – especially electrolyte water, which hydrates kids quickly and stays in the body longer (meaning fewer potty breaks). Edmunds.com has more kid-friendly driving tips with How to Survive a Road Trip with Kids.
3) Pack Some Entertainment – No TVs built into the headrests? No problem. Portable DVD players are very affordable, and of course, passengers can always fire up movies or games on a laptop or tablet. Even if you don’t pack the technology, there are still plenty of old-fashioned road trip games – like I Spy, 20 Questions and the Picnic Game – that the entire family can enjoy.
4) Know Where You’re Going – Even if your car isn’t equipped with a navigation system, there is a wide variety of free navigation apps – such as Google Maps – available for your smartphone. No matter what app you use, Edmunds.com recommends that you choose one that offers real-time traffic information to avoid crippling backups. And it’s never a bad idea to have paper maps on hand in case there are issues with your phone or its network connection.
5) Keep Calm and Carry On – Whether it’s the kids screaming behind you, or the jerk who just cut you off on the freeway, you never know when a flash of road rage will hit. The best way to avoid angry outbursts is to make sure you’re rested. Get a good night’s sleep before your trip, and for especially long road trips, take a break every two to three hours. Edmunds.com has more tips on coping with road rage at http://www.edmunds.com/car-reviews/top-10/top-10-tips-to-prevent-road-rage.html.
Edmunds.com suggests more road trip essentials this summer at http://www.edmunds.com/car-reviews/features/memorial-day-road-trip-essentials.html.
And for those who still need to find the perfect car to haul the family, Edmunds.com names its Top Ten Family Road Trip Vehicles at http://www.edmunds.com/car-reviews/top-10/top-10-family-road-trip-vehicles-for-2013.html.