It’s time to plan summer travel, and you’re lucky if your plans include a road trip. During almost four decades married to a man who didn’t fly, I took quite a few road trips. Traveling by car is a wonderful way to get a fresh perspective on our beautiful country. To help you enjoy the journey, I collected some useful road trip tips:

Safety first. Before you go, get your car checked out to ensure that your tires are full and your vehicle is fit for a long drive. Double check that your registration and proof of insurance are in the glove box too, and pack extra water, a small fire extinguisher and a first aid kit in the trunk. To play it extra safe, buy or create a portable emergency kit like the Ready America 70385 Deluxe Emergency Kit Backpack.

Research fun pit stops. Learn about the towns and communities you’ll be passing through, then stop at interesting spots along the way. Places on the map that seem ho-hum might just contain a historic piece of architecture, a quirky museum, or a breathtaking scenic viewpoint.

Skip the fast food chains. Don’t satisfy your hunger at rest stops if you can help it. Instead use Yelp or a crowd-sourcing travel app like Findery to discover great local eats. Mom and pop diners, ethnic restaurants and farmstands will give you a sense of the local culture, and the food will taste much better too. For between meal snacking, pack non-messy, non-smelly healthy snacks like nuts, dried fruit and cut up fresh veggies sealed in tupperware or glass containers.

Clean as you go. Bring a small trash bag in the car with you and fill it up with napkins, stray snacks, and the like, then dump out the trash whenever you stop at a gas station. Cars can get messy quickly, especially if you’re traveling with little ones.

Stay entertained. If you have children, play some classic car games like I Spy and the license plate game (see who can spot license plates form the most states, with bonus points for very small or far-away states). Before you go, create a visual scavenger hunt for the kids, so they’ll stay on the lookout for plants, animals and landmarks you’ll pass along the way. As for music, remember that while it can be fun to listed to local radio for a while, the pickings get slim when you’re outside of major metro areas. Load up your iPod with favorite songs, get a Spotify Premium account, or subscribe to satellite radio like Sirius.

Happy travels!


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