Practice safe driving
Leave yourself plenty of time to get to your destination and don’t forget to buckle up. Observe the speed limit, be well rested and alert, don’t follow cars too closely, and make frequent stops or rotate drivers.
Limit the distractions
One of the most dangerous driving distractions is using your cell phone while driving. Give the phone to a passenger and let them do the talking, or wait until you make a travel stop for gas or to use the restroom and make your calls then.
Make sure your vehicle is road ready
If it’s time for an oil change, make sure to get one before heading out on a long Memorial Day car trip. Also, check the pressure in all four tires and make sure the windshield fluid is full. Give your vehicle the once over, or have it checked out by a local and trustworthy mechanic. It’s absolutely no fun being stranded in an auto shop in a strange locale.
Avoid the most popular highways (if at all possible)
Navigating the highways presents its own set of challenges during the extended Memorial Day weekend. Traffic can choke heavily traveled routes, like the I-95 corridor on the East Coast, adding hours to generally speedy trips. Try to avoid the busiest highways, especially on the Friday before Memorial and the holiday itself.
Pack for the kids
Nothing can distract a parent driver more than a carload of cranky kids who become bored too quickly. Portable DVD players (some with dual screens), iPods, coloring books and crayons, picture books, portable board games with magnetic pieces can all help pass the time. Make sure everything is within easy reach. Don’t forget to load up pillows and blankets. Sleeping children are quiet children.
Plan your route, but have a Plan B available
Map out your route beforehand, but make sure you have a GPS, smartphone or a map in the car in case a road is blocked. If this happens along your journey, activate Plan B to avoid unnecessary delays.
Be aware of changing weather conditions
Springtime weather can be tricky at times. While it’s sunny and warm in one place, it can be rainy or nasty in another. When traveling this weekend, be sure to check the weather forecast before heading out.
Fill the tank before leaving home
Gas is more expensive at stations located right off the highway. Fill your tank at home and when it’s time to fill up again, look for stations that are located about ½-1 mile off the interstate. By driving a few extra minutes, you can save about $6-$10 on a fill-up. Gas Buddy is a great mobile app that will help you find the cheapest gas prices while on the go.
Traveling families often take along a lot of extra baggage. Make sure you don’t weigh your vehicle down too much. For any excess items that won’t fit in the trunk, a rooftop carrier is a good option, but be sure everything is tied down securely.
Pack an emergency kit
Even if you have an emergency road assistance plan, if you get stuck, you may have to wait hours because of the sheer number of travelers on the road. So, carry some essentials in your trunk or hatch. Jumper cables, a foam tire sealant, a jack and lug wrench could all come in handy when a problem arises. Consumer Reports offers a list of what to include in your roadside emergency kit.
A little preparation can go a long way to ensure a safe, stress-free Memorial Day road trip.