Who can forget those jammed-in-the-backseat road trips we took as kids? (“But Mom, she’s looking at me!”) If you’re planning your own family odyssey, check out these top tips to ensure safe and happy travels – no matter your age, car, or destination.
For the car
If your idea of auto maintenance means keeping your mechanic on speed dial, schedule a tune-up two weeks before your trip (that will allow time to fix any problems). Or, if you don’t mind getting grease under your nails, here are some things you can do yourself:
Fluid levelsCheck and, if needed, top off oil, transmission, brake, power steering, radiator, and windshield-washer fluids.
TiresCheck tread (at least 2/32 of an inch) and pressure (specifications are usually in the door frame or owner’s manual). Over-inflation leads to skidding in wet conditions; under-inflation causes sloppy handling and premature wear. Don’t forget the spare.
WipersReplace wipers worn from battling winter weather.
LightsReplace burned-out brake and turn lights. Check headlights’ alignment to make sure they don’t blind oncoming drivers. If you’re towing a trailer, test its lights, too.
BatteryCarefully remove corrosion around battery posts to help ensure top performance.
Hoses and beltsReplace anything with signs of blistering, fraying, or splitting. Summer’s heat only speeds rubber breakdown.
Make sure kids’ car seats are installed properly. If you need help, try seatcheck.org.
Travel bagsMinimize “Are we there yet?” meltdowns with surprise travel bags. Include colored pencils, books, snacks, toys, and activity sets, plus a few little wrapped surprises for each child. (Just don’t give out all the goodies at once!)
Audio booksReduce backseat bickering with engaging stories everyone can enjoy – available free from your library.
Plan stops every two hoursGive kids a chance to use the bathroom, run off some energy, and even avert motion sickness.
Stick to medication schedules. It’s easy to toss out routines on road trips, but certain medications need consistent dosing. Also, beware dips in blood sugar that can accompany erratic dining schedules. Pack quality snacks like nuts, fresh fruit, whole grain crackers, and water to keep everyone fueled and hydrated between stops.
Pack a medication coolerInsulin and other drugs are temperature-sensitive and can overheat in a trunk, glove compartment, or near a window.
Stop and walk every two hoursSitting too long in one position can lead to potentially life-threatening blood clots.
Restrain RoverA well-ventilated carrier that’s buckled in protects you and your pet. (In a 30-mph crash, a 60-pound dog can slam into you with 2,700 pounds of force.) If a crate isn’t your style, try a dog safety harness that attaches to your car’s rear seat belt.
No flapping earsAw, they love it. But a dog with its head out the window can be injured by flying road debris and develop respiratory trouble from having cold air forced into its lungs.
Pack both food and waterVets recommend slowly introducing dogs to new water sources to avoid digestive upset.
Don't cook your pet!No joke here. On warm sunny days, the inside of your vehicle can quickly soar above 100 degrees. It's not enough to crack the windows an inch or two. Don't leave your pet inside a hot car to suffer – or worse.
For peace of mind
Pack an emergency kitAt minimum, include water, blankets, a flashlight, jumper cables, flares, tools to change a tire, and a first-aid kit. Also, pack your cell phone charger so you can stay connected throughout your trip.
Bring paper mapsSure, you probably won’t need them. But they make a great backup if your GPS obstinately tries to steer you into the middle of a lake!
Call if you have questions about your policyThinking of adding towing or car-rental reimbursement coverage? Call us at 1-800-GO-PEMCO, and we’ll be glad to help.