We hate to break it to you, but August is upon us. Summer is going to near it’s end before you know it and the end of August seems to be the time that most Minnesotans plan their family vacations. It’s also becoming more popular to drive than fly to a destination for many reasons. We thought it would be helpful to give you some tips and tricks to planning and perfecting your road trip.
1. Clean your car before and during your trip.
Go ahead, leave the napkins and gum wrappers under your seat. Leave the receipts from your last business-related drive in the glove box. Don’t sweat the dog hair in the back bed … but you’ll be sorry. A few days into your trip, when the old gum wrappers are joined by new fast food wrappers, when the glove box starts overflowing with hotel receipts and local maps, when dog hair starts sticking to your luggage and your gear, you’ll rue the day you failed to pull out the Shop-Vac.
As your trip proceeds, take time every couple of days to purge your car. Even if you can tolerate some chaos, the accumulated junk and minor filth will start to drive you mad in the close quarters that define a road trip.
2. Check your vehicle.
About a week before you leave for a long road trip, have your mechanic check your car’s fluid levels, brakes, tires and anything else that could cause problems. Be sure your spare tire is fully inflated and that you have jumper cables and extra wiper fluid on hand.
3. Have a loose plan.
If you overschedule your road trip, you’re almost guaranteed to find yourself slogging the last few miles long after you had intended to be asleep, trying to cancel one hotel reservation so you can pay for another well short of your originally planned destination.
On the other hand, having no plan at all is only recommended for the most hardy souls.
4. Anticipate trouble spots.
Road construction is notorious this time of year. However, the app named Waze can reroute you and save you lots of time. Check it out, you won’t be sorry.
5. Preload your phone with entertainment options.
The days of regional radio offering a musical or informational palette that you can’t find anywhere else are almost all but gone, so tapping into the local vibe via radio is far less satisfying than it used to be. That means you’ll want to make sure your phone is set to keep you entertained over the long hours of driving, whether you’re tapping into your own collection of music, streaming tunes via an app like Spotify or Pandora, or listening to your favorite podcasts.
If you’re road tripping in your own car, you probably already have a phone charger that will plug into the console and keep you powered up. If you’re renting a car for your road trip, be sure you have the right technology to plug into whatever power outlet is available in that vehicle (cigarette charger, USB port, etc.).
6. Join a roadside rescue service.
Having that 800-number that immediately ties you in to approved local tow services and mechanics is going to save you a lot of hassle, and also shield you from some of the dangers of the road that none of us wishes to encounter. We highly recommend AAA. Their benefits can be used in so many ways!
7. Have your documents and a clean record.
I don’t know about you, but it sometimes seems like my new insurance card takes days or weeks to get into my glove box. If you are traveling without current documentation of license, registration or insurance, you could be in for a world of hurt if you are pulled over for any reason. Further, you may want to clear up any old traffic and parking tickets before you go; under the right (or perhaps wrong, in this case) circumstances, your car can be impounded for your wayward ways.
8. Seize the moment
Whether you are ahead of schedule or way behind, there is something to be said about breaking away from the plan. Maybe you wanna stop at that tourist trap, or check into a hotel early and catch a nap….sometimes the best family memories are the unplanned things in life.
Here’s wishing that your road tripping finds you on time and in the right place, even when you least expect it.