1. Before beginning a long drive, always get enough sleep and eat something. Highly caffeinated
beverages are not necessarily the best way to stay awake while driving. While initially
you will feel more alert, the effects can recede with time, and your attention may wander although you remain awake.
2. Pull over and take breaks every couple of hours, even if you don't feel sleepy. Grab a snack, get some fresh air, and stretch your legs by walking around. If you need to, take a quick nap.
3. If you can, share the driving responsibilities with someone else. This will allow you to keep an eye on each other while driving and also enable you to nap without losing time. If you're driving alone, turn on the radio or put on some music, and keep your window cracked open.
4. If you do have to pull over, move your vehicle off the road. Never park on the shoulder for any reason except an emergency.
5. Know the laws along your route concerning cell phone use while driving. While it may be legal in one place, it may be illegal in another. However, even if it's legal to talk on a cell phone where you're going, it's usually safest to use a hands-free device.
6. Never drink any alcohol before your trip. While you may not become intoxicated
from one beer, you will become sleepy.
7. Keep an eye on the skies, and if you can, plan a route around inclement
weather. A minor detour could actually wind up saving you major time.
8. Search the Web for traffic update sites and listen to radio traffic alerts, especially when approaching major cities.
9. Not even a GPS unit is infallible
, so we recommend bringing a detailed map as a backup just in case. A mapping app on your smartphone is another must-have for long road trips.
10. If you are driving a rental vehicle, familiarize yourself with the car and all of its equipment (horn, brakes, hazard
11. Lock all of your valuables in the trunk or glove compartment and stow all luggage in the trunk.
12. Before setting off on a long car trip, be sure your vehicle is in prime condition -- that tires are properly inflated
, all fluids are at their proper levels and you have a full tank of gas. (For particularly long road trips, you may want to have your mechanic do a more thorough check.)
13. Keep costs down by conserving gas as you drive. Minimize sudden starts and stops, empty your car of all unnecessary weight, and slow down -- it takes much less fuel to drive 55 miles an hour than it does to drive 70.
14. Don't wait until your gas gauge is sitting on E to refuel. On an unfamiliar road, you never know when the next gas station will appear. As soon as you hit a quarter of a tank, start looking for a place to fill up.
15. On longer trips, keep napkins, plasticware and a small handy cooler for meals on the go. You'll also want some spare change for tolls, as well as a first-aid kit, flashlight, pillow and blanket. Keep a set of jumper cables, a spare tire, and extra fluids for the car (such as windshield
wiper fluid) in your trunk.
16. This last tip should go without saying, but it's important enough that we'll say it anyway: Make sure everyone in the car buckles
his or her seatbelt. Not only will it keep you safe, but in many places it's also the law.