Top Tips for a Better, Safer Road Trip

four people planning for a trip

Planning for a roadtrip | iStock

Pro Tip: You might want to pull over before consulting the map!

Experts estimate that over 34 million people travel 50 miles or more by car over the July 4 weekend. That's on top of 30 million Americans who hit the road on Memorial Day weekend! So, it seems as though we like to road trip around America. Before we can start enjoying that fun in the sun though, we have to actually make it there. So here are four tips to ensure a successful road trip.


1. Don’t rely on GPS exclusively

Whether on your phone, dash, or built-in display, a GPS is great for directing us exactly where we want to be. When it works. GPS can and does make mistakes. It can direct us to a “road” that’s more suited for a four-wheel drive vehicle (or goat) or even closed due to snow. The GPS signals also can fail in areas without cell phone coverage, if satellites malfunction or their signal is blocked, or if your device's battery dies. So check your route ahead of time, carry a portable charger, and take along an old-school map if you're heading somewhere remote. You can also download areas in Google Maps on your phone before you leave. It's a handy trick that's saved us in rural areas or when traveling in different countries.


2. Keep tabs on vehicle maintenance

You know how to take care of your vehicle, and you know what needs to be done to ensure it’s always in top running condition. But, do you remember exactly what you did, were supposed to do or meant to do, and when? Say you meant to change the timing belt around the 100,000-mile mark. But the weather was still bone-chilling cold so you put off the job for a couple months. You’re only human, which is why you can’t trust your memory exclusively. Instead, keep a detailed vehicle maintenance log. Record the type of maintenance performed, when it was done, and when future maintenance is due. Follow your vehicle manufacturer’s suggested maintenance intervals.


3. Prepare for the unexpected

Stuff happens, even with the best laid plans. You're almost on empty, but there's a cheaper gas station just over the border. You know you always have a can of Fix-A-Flat in your emergency kit, so why bother checking the spare tire air pressure? What could possibly go wrong? Just enough to turn your fun road trip into a migraine. The gas station could be out of gas, or out of business. You could experience two flat tires at the same time and only have one can of emergency tire inflator. No matter what your plan is, or how good it seems, always have a reliable backup plan.


4. Trust your intuition

That “gut feeling” is more than just a hunch. Research shows that intuition is actually our subconscious mind’s way of storing, retrieving, and processing information. This helps us avoid potentially harmful or dangerous situations. Maybe you don’t like the look of the single lane road ahead or the neighborhood you’re driving through or even the threatening sky. Perhaps something (other than your GPS or co-pilot) is telling you you’re traveling in the wrong direction. Trust your intuition, but listen to the other passengers in your vehicle too. They might see something you don't because you're focused on driving conditions.

By knowing what to trust, and what not to trust, you can enjoy your spring break destination and the journey there, instead of sitting at home, cursing Old Man Winter, or on the side of the road, cursing your flat tires. If you're one of those determined drivers hitting the road this summer, check out our infographic below for more helpful tips.


 Advance Auto Parts


Download your own copy of Rules for Road Trips and feel free to share with friends and family.

How do you prepare yourself and your vehicle for a road trip? Tell us in the comments.

Last updated March 22, 2021