Whether it's a short trip to a nearby town, or a long leap from one side of the nation to the other, nothing gives peace of mind like a little advance planning. By preparing for your trip, you can feel more relaxed and enjoy the destination.
Here are a few tips to make driving or flying safer and more enjoyable. Have a safe trip!
- Safety First
Create an emergency kit for your car. Gather items such as water, blankets, a flashlight, batteries, a first aid kit, flare, emergency road signs, a pen and notebook, and keep them in a sturdy sports bag in your trunk. A disposable camera is also useful, and can help record any accidents that might occur, and your insurance company can provide you with accident report forms to keep in your kit.
- Take Breaks
Be sure to take regular breaks. You can stop every 2 hours, every 100 miles, or whenever you feel like it. Build time into your travel schedule for these breaks. Stop in well-lit public places, and walk around if the weather permits. Spend a little time stretching and moving. If you ever feel tired when driving, stop as soon as possible, and take time to rest or revive yourself. Never continue driving if you`re sleepy - it`s just not safe. It`s better to stop in a safe place and have a nap and then start driving when you feel refreshed. Instead, make sure to have a good night`s sleep before you leave.
- Save Money
When you do need to stop, don`t be tempted by potentially overpriced restaurants or gift shops. Prepare snacks ahead of time, and keep them in a cooler. Sandwiches and bottles of water are cheap alternatives to fast food, and if the weather permits, an impromptu picnic can be a lot of fun. And be sure to have a good supply of quarters and dollar bills for tolls.
- Full Power
Charge your cell phone before you leave. Even a phone that isn`t signed up with a service provider can be used to call 911. If your trip is going to take more than 8-10 hours, you may want to consider only turning your phone on every so often to check for messages, or if you need to use it. Keep it turned off to save battery power. If you have an in-car charger, this won`t be a problem.
- Check your Vehicle
If it`s nearly time for an oil change, do it before you leave. Check your tire inflation - this is not just a good safety tip, it can help improve gas mileage (every little bit helps).
- Know where you`re Going
Have the address of your destination handy. Online map services such as MapQuest.com and maps.google.com can help you plan the best route. Ask about some local landmarks near your destination - this could make the last few miles of your trip easier.
- Check for Construction
Check ahead about construction on major routes you`ll be taking. A two hour trip could take much longer if there`s a lot of work going on. Plan a secondary route using back-roads if you can, just in case. Check the Department of Transport website for the state you are visiting, as it may have information on current and planned road construction. TripTiks ® from the American Automobile Association (AAA) are another potential source for both directions and construction details, while their web site includes a Construction Hotspot interactive tool.
- Good Distractions
When traveling with children, or young adults, consider having some distractions for them (so they don`t distract you!). Mini-DVD players with built-in screens can be a great way to pass time, so pack a few of their favorite movies. Handheld video games can also be a good way to keep kids busy, but make sure you have spare batteries - and headphones.
- It`s a Gas
Fill up regularly. Don`t try to push to the 'next gas station' if your vehicle is running low on fuel, since you might not make it if there are unexpected delays or diversions.
- Get there Early!
Even for a domestic flight, it`s best to get to the airport at least 90 minutes before your flight is meant to leave. For international flights, arrive at least two hours before departure. During busy travel times, such as the holiday season, you may wish to arrive even earlier than that. Add another 30 minutes if you're returning a rental car.
- Best Case Scenario
Roller-cases with pull-out handles can make life easier. Don`t over-pack a shoulder bag, since it will strain your back and make you very uncomfortable when carrying it around for hours at a time. Consider tying a colorful piece of material to the handle of your case to make it more recognizable in baggage claim.
- It`s a Wrap
Don`t wrap gifts ahead of time. Airport security may require you to open them again.
Put all documents such as passports, tickets or flight confirmation, and directions (along with your hotel information) in a safe place, such as a pocket inside your hand-luggage. It should be easy to get to at all times. Always put documentation back in the same place when you`re not using it, so you won`t lose track of where it is.
- Dress Smart
Wear comfortable, light clothing, preferably with layers that you can remove or put on depending upon the temperature. Wear comfortable shoes. The key here is comfort.
- Expect a Long Wait
Be prepared for long delays at airports, especially if the weather is bad. Consider what you`ll do if flights are cancelled, and be sure to have contact numbers for local hotels. Have a backup plan for your journey home.
- Move It
Get up and walk about whenever you can during a long flight. This will help you feel more refreshed when you arrive, and will help prevent cramps or even more serious problems like DVT (Deep Vein Thrombosis)
- Good Distractions
Bring a book or two, or a magazine. A small CD player is great, or even a radio can help pass the time, both waiting for the flight, or when on board. An MP3 player is a great way to listen to audio books, as long as you keep feeding it batteries
One Last Thing HAVE FUN. Think about the good times that are awaiting you at your destination, and how much fun you`ll have. And when it`s all over, just imagine getting home and being able to relax!