The summer travel season is here. Over the next few months, millions of people will hit the road, the rails, and the skies to go on vacation, visit friends and family, and explore the world. If your summer plans call for travel, it's worth taking the time before departure to get yourself organized; doing so can save you both time and stress. For the next few weeks, we'll consider some quick tips to help you make the most of your travels. First up: smart travel by car.
If you're traveling by car
Car travel can be among the most flexible ways to go, as you get to determine your own schedule, stops, and destination. You also get the luxury of more flexibility in terms of how much luggage you bring and how neatly it needs to be packed. That said, it still pays to be prepared. These tips can help.
- Make sure your car is road-ready. The last thing any car traveler wants is to run into trouble along the way. Take the time before you set out to make sure your vehicle is ready for the trip. Tom and Ray from NPR's Car Talk have created a list of summer driving tips aimed at helping you get ready for your voyage; you can find the link at the end of this article.
- Bring en route entertainment. It's no secret that traveling by car isn't always thrilling. When packing, be sure to bring along enough entertainment to keep yourself and your passengers occupied during the trip. For kids, this might mean special toys they don't get to play with on a regular basis or some new books; for adults, consider recorded books, an MP3 player that works with your car stereo, and (for passengers) a portable DVD player for watching movies.
- Don't overpack. Just because you can bring everything but the kitchen sink with you doesn't mean you should. Remember that the more you bring, the more crowded your car will be and the lower your gas mileage. Go about packing for car trips the same way you would for other trips: make a list of what you'll need based on your destination and what you'll do there. You might throw in a few extra outfits or pairs of shoes, or some sporting equipment you wouldn't normally be able to take on a plane, but don't cram your trunk full: you'll still want space for things you pick up along the way.
- Prepare a car emergency kit. Finally, before you hit the road, get together a few emergency essentials that will get you out of sticky spots until you're able to get help should you run into trouble along the way. Your emergency kit should contain car maintenance basics like motor oil, a fix-a-flat kit, wiper fluid, and coolant. Also pack some bottled water and non-perishable, non-meltable snacks, a blanket, a basic first aid kit, and a few bungee cords. In addition to your kit, consider programming your auto club's emergency number into your cell phone so you can get in touch quickly if you run into a snag.
Take the time to get organized before your next car trip. You'll travel with more confidence and less stress.