Road Trips

Weekend get-aways or day excursions typically mean a trip in the car.  That doesn’t mean that the car should only be regulated to short distances, but traveling long distances in a car takes time – and often time is something in limited supply.  In addition, time spent in the car is time not spent seeing the sights or visiting with the family and friends we’ve traveled to see.  That said, I greatly enjoy the occasional road trip and over the past years have changed my travel mode from air travel to road trips to visit family in the Carolinas from our home in southern Florida.  Here are my thoughts for making your road trip safe and enjoyable.

Car Preparation:  Car maintenance is something we should all keep up on, however when planning a road trip, a well maintained vehicle is essential.  A week or two before your trip is a great time to get your oil changed, tires and fluids checked, and have an overall general vehicle inspection from a service center you know and trust.  A few days before the trip, I bring my car to the car wash for a complete exterior and interior cleaning.  It doesn’t cost much, and having freshly cleaned windows (inside and out) is worth the price alone – especially if you intend to be driving at night.

Plan Your Route:  Sometimes the shortest route is not the best route – either for the scenery, or interesting places along the way, or even just to avoid traffic congestion around some of the larger cities.  During our trips to the Carolinas, I know we add a few hours to our trip each way, but we have a route where the roads are great, we’ve found some great restaurants, and the traffic is never heavy – all things that make the trip relaxing and enjoyable.   

 GPS:  A few years ago I received one of these as a present and I must say, I love it for road trips.  Maps are wonderful for understanding the big picture and planning a specific route, but when behind the wheel – the GPS is the way to go.  Even if you’re familiar with your route, a basic GPS unit will give you an estimated time of arrival at your destination, alert you when your turn is approaching, and even show you what the speed limit is on the road you’re traveling.  A good GPS unit can be a welcome friend when you encounter traffic tie-ups and need to quickly seek an alternate route.

Destinations along the way:  If you’re traveling to a new destination, do some research to see what interesting places might be along the way – or might be accessible with only a minor detour from your intended route.  Having an interim stop during a long day of driving will let you stretch your legs and help get you refreshed for the next leg of your trip.  If your trip requires an overnight stay between destinations, look for place of interest where you can not only get some well deserved rest, but take in some of the local sights as well.