Going on an Adventure? Five Driving Travel Tips

Yes, there are planes, trains, and buses, but nothing screams adventure and fun than a road-trip... whether it's a day-trip, a week-long journey, a summer expedition, or something even longer. Who doesn't love the open road, with the ability to drive anywhere, stop anywhere, and really experience Americana?

But before you jump in your car for your next road trip, here are five tips for making your driving adventures better, safer, and more fun.

1. Keep Your Vehicle Well Maintained. Nothing stops the fun of a road trip as fast as having to make a long stop to fix some mechanical problem that could have been prevented. Be sure to follow your vehicle's guidelines for oil changes, tire rotation (and inflation), and other general servicing -- including brakes. Before heading out on your trip, complete a thorough inspection of your vehicle -- or get a mechanic to do it... including checking your tire pressure and tread wear, oil level, transmission fluid, brake fluid, engine coolant level, windshield wiper fluid, windshield wiper wear, and battery connections. Also check on the condition of your spare tire. Finally, test all lights and signals -- and get repairs done if not functioning properly.

2. Create a Vehicle Emergency Kit. Sure, I was indeed a Boy Scout, but that does not mean it is not common sense to have supplies on hand in case of an emergency. Yes, the items in your emergency kit will add weight to your vehicle (and affect gas mileage), but it is always better to be safe than sorry. Here is an inclusive list of what you should keep in your vehicle, especially for longer road trips:

  • First aid kit (not just band-aids, but a large emergency first aid kit)

  • Bottled water

  • Non-perishable, high-energy foods, such as protein bars, canned nuts

  • Lighter, matches, candle

  • Flashlight (and batteries, if battery-operated; consider a crank one)

  • Tools (screwdrivers, wrenches, hammer/mallet at a minimum)

  • Cell phone charger

  • Small (collapsible) shovel

  • Spare clothes

  • Portable battery jump starter/tire inflator

  • Battery-operated radio

  • Flares or reflective emergency sign

3. Practice Safe/Defensive Driving Skills. Not all drivers are as great as we are, right? So to help protect ourselves against the folks who sometimes appear to have never learned the rules of the road, we need to practice defensive driving -- using a set of skills, assumptions, and techniques to help save lives, time, and money by attempting to reduce the risk of collisions in spite of the conditions around us and the actions (or altered states) of other drivers. Tips for defensive driving include:

  • Staying alert to weather and road conditions

  • Knowing the rules of the road (and current road speed limits)

  • Monitoring the vehicles and drivers around you; checking mirrors frequently

  • Anticipating, but not assuming driver reactions (especially to road construction, accidents)

  • Never assuming other drivers are alert, know the rules, or are sober

  • Maintaining a safe distance away from all other vehicles

  • Driving at a safe speed

  • Practicing patience and understanding during high/stalled traffic situations

  • Being prepared to react quickly and carefully to changing circumstances

  • Avoiding all distractions while driving

4. Sketch Out Your Route Before Leaving. You don't need to have every second of your trip planned out before you walk out the door, but having at least a rough roadmap of your plans will help give you an idea of places you may want to visit, times/places to stop for a meal, and when/where to call it a night. Having at least a daily destination also helps you put the route into your GPS or Google Maps and can give you an idea of the best routes -- and what might lie ahead, from fun roadside attractions to horrible road congestion.

5. Know Your Driving Limitations -- and Plan Accordingly. Some folks can drive for hours at a time, some for all day, while others need to take breaks, drink coffee, and stretch their legs. The key to arriving safely back home is knowing your limitations -- and obeying them. Long-haul truckers have very specific guidelines for how long they can be driving before they have to take a mandatory break -- and you should hold yourself to that same standard. If it's the middle of the day and you don't want to spend money on a motel, then find a patrolled rest area or a Wal-Mart parking lot and take a nap. Find a park and walk around to revitalize yourself. Never risk your life -- and the lives of others -- by driving when you are falling asleep at the wheel.

Dr. Randall Hansen is an advocate, educator, mentor, ethicist, and thought-leader... helping the world heal from past trauma. He is founder and CEO of EmpoweringSites.com, a network of empowering and transformative Websites, including EmpoweringAdvice.com.

He is the author of the groundbreaking Triumph Over Trauma: Psychedelic Medicines are Helping People Heal Their Trauma, Change Their Lives, and Grow Their Spirituality and the well-received HEAL! Wholeistic Practices to Help Clear Your Trauma, Heal Yourself, and Live Your Best Life.

Dr. Hansen's focus and advocacy center around true healing ... healing that results in being able to live an authentic life filled with peace, joy, love. Learn more by visiting his personal Website, RandallSHansen.com. You can also check out Dr. Randall Hansen on LinkedIn.