Have you chosen to take a road trip as part of your next family vacation? Traveling along with kids in the car can be tiring, but it can also be a great way to give them an appreciation for new landscapes.
According to MMGY Global’s 2017-18 Portrait of American Travelers, we’ve seen a recent spike in US travelers taking road trip vacations, from 22% in 2015 up to 39% in 2016.
Road trips can be quite stressful, and based on an IPSOS research study, around 57% of parents admitted feeling stressed about where they will stop along the way.
However, long trips in the car can be dangerous if you don’t prepare properly and give yourself and the kids enough time for rest breaks when you’re on the road – even when you’re sitting down, driving can get very tiring!
Consider the following family vacation safety tips before you hit the road:
5 Important Safety Tips on Your Family Road Trip
1. Child-proof your car
Bored kids are often more prone to getting into mischief, so make sure they’re not getting themselves into trouble in the backseat. Make sure their doors are properly closed and locked and ensure their seatbelts fit correctly.
It is essential to childproof your car by stowing away any dangerous objects – making sure kids can’t reach these from their seats. This includes anything too heavy, as huge objects can be hazardous in the case of a crash.
If you’re driving your own car, take it to your local Warrant of Fitness workshop for a quick check before you head on your road trip. Even if your vehicle seems to be usually running, it’s always a great idea to check there are no hidden issues that could cause unexpected trouble a hundred miles from home.
2. Drive safely
Distraction can be lethal while driving – and there are plenty of ways drivers can become distracted. Make sure you get enough sleep before your trip, try not to engage too much with other passengers on stretches of road that require intense attention, such as winding roads, around the sea or clifftops, or near schools.
Never take phone calls or text while you are driving, and keep your interactions with Bluetooth, choosing music, etc. to a minimum (music is a must for many people – but try to arrange your favorite jam tracks into a playlist before you go so that you won’t have to keep hitting the skip button!
Sit up straight and keep your eyes on the road, as sitting in an overly relaxed position can make you sleepy.
If you’re traveling with your partner, take shifts, and swap every few hours – don’t spend too much time at the wheel in one go. Make sure you’re aware of your surroundings and take extra care in difficult terrain.
When traveling to a foreign country, ensure you read up on their road rules before you begin your trip.
3. Learn a few simple car maintenance skills
You don’t have to be a car expert to get behind the wheel, but learning how to do several simple car maintenance tasks will be very useful if you get caught out by problems on a long trip.
- you should learn how to check tire pressure
- change a tire
- and change your windscreen wiper fluid
You can easily find plenty of walkthrough video tutorials on YouTube for every skill under the sun, so you have no excuses to learn how to perform a few basic car maintenance tasks!
4. Keep an emergency kit in the car
Always be ready for emergency situations on your road trip. Make yourself a first aid kit stocked with all the necessities, including band-aids, bandages, safety pins, sunscreen, hand sanitizer, ointments, bug spray/cream, or any other medicines that you need.
As well as first aid supplies, consider keeping:
- a charged power bank for your phone,
- vehicle jumper cables,
- and a flashlight and,
- some drinking water plus a few snacks.
Emergency supplies and food (dry or tinned food is easiest to store) will come in handy during accidents or other problems: even if you can contact other people, you may have to wait for several hours for help to arrive – if anything should be taking up precious space in your car, basic emergency supplies are great to have.
5. Pack light
Though taking all of your favorite swimsuits and shoes can be tempting, packing light for your vacation will prevent extra weight in your car and keep your rear-view mirror free of obstructions. Ensure your suitcases or bags are safely packed away whenever you set off, as you don’t want them flying loose through your car in the case of an accident.
Safety should be one of the critical things you consider when taking a vacation by car. Planning will also help you to relax and fully enjoy your road trip, as you’ll know that you’re well-prepared for any problems that may arise.