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Ten Things to Remember When Preparing for a Road Trip

Updated on June 13, 2009
Driving Through Eastern Canada, 2006
Driving Through Eastern Canada, 2006
Hit the Road
Hit the Road

Tips To Survive Your Road Trip Safely

Yes, its that time of year again, and even with high gas prices and border restrictions, many North Americans are heading out for road trips through the continent. My destination is through parts of Southern USA. This is an area rich in history and cultural diversity. The region's unique cultural and historic heritage, including Native Americans; early European settlements of Spanish, English and French heritage; importation of hundreds of thousands of enslaved Africans. (Wikipedia)

The states of my interests are Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Washington, Maryland, Pennsylavania and New York. The growth of a large proportion of African Americans in the population, was due to reliance on slave labour, and legacy of the confederacy after the American Civil War. The South developed its own customs, literature, musical styles, and varied cuisines. (Wikipedia)

To prepare for a road trip one must consider many things ahead of time and plan for the unforeseen events. it is for that reason that I have researched what the experts have to say.

1.Be Prepared: Plan your Route

You can utilize online tools such as MapQuest, Google maps to plan your route. You can also go to CAA  or  AAA to plan your trip. Many of us have GPS in our cars or have purchased portable ones, these are great tools to help to navigate your trip through North America. Be sure that you have updated maps of USA and Canada on your GPS. It is also important to carry a hard copy of mapQuest or CAA maps just in case the GPS fail. You can decide ahead of time where you will spend each night. You can reserve hotel accommodations online. Be sure to find out what is the cancellation policy for each hotel.

2. Vehicle Maintenanace

Be sure to get your car serviced. You should check and change oil and filter, rotate tires, top up liquids, check breaks, check all lights and flashers on your car. If you are using a rental car, then be sure to verify that all the checks mentioned were done. Also, you should find out ahead of time what will happen if your rental car has a mechanical problem; can you drop it off in the USA and get another? Be sure all documentations for the car, whether rental or private are with you. Don't forget insurance. Don't forget your emergency kit for your car.

3. Travel and Medical Insurance

Obtain travel and medical insurance before you go on your roadtrip. You should be prepared for any kind of emergency, whether medical or otherwise. CAA/AAA offers very competitive rates as well as discount on some hotel rates.

4. Necessities to Past the time in Your Vehicle

Since you'll be spending most of your time in your vehicle, it is paramount that it is comfortable and has as much necessities as possible to past the time. If you are travelling with children, it is even more important to plan ahead. You may want to take your favourite music - DVD/iPod; audio books; video games; movies; snacks and drinks. You can bring along a cooler with water, snacks and drinks. Also you will require hand wipes and paper towels to clean up misses.

5. Truck Stops, Use Them

You should use the truck stops for periodical breaks from driving. They are safe because they have 24 hours security.( They usually have fairly good food choices and restrooms that are fairly clean.

6.Research cities that you will stop along the way:

You should do your research about each city that you will stop over each night. Find out the historical significance of each city; their places of interests; cost of living; and crime rate. It is a good idea to stay in a hotel in or close to the downtown core of a city. You will be closer to major places of interest, restaurants and easy access to the highway as you time is the essence as you continue your trip.

7.Be Aware of Your Surroundings

Mark Sedenquist of roadtripamerica, suggests getting a room on the second floor of a hotel so you can see the parking lot where your vehicle is parked. You should keep valuable out of plain sight. Mark also suggests that you take articles in plain view out of your car overnight. I suspect that this will deter a break in.

8. Get to Know the Locals

The locals know their cities well enough to tell you how to find places of interest, good local restaurants, places in the city that are safer than others and quick route back to the highway.

9. Keep a Journal

You may take great pictures, but a journal helps you to keep track of all the important sights. You will also have a quick reference when you return home and write your blog.

10. Have Fun

Finally, just relax and have fun. Enjoy your trip and the people that you meet along the way. No amount of planning can control everything that will happen on your trip, so just plan ahead and then go with the flow.

See also: Canda Upclose By Road Trip

10 Places in Toronto


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    • DynamicS profile image

      Sandria Green-Stewart 7 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      Thanks Pixienot; you are welcome. I actually took this trip 2 summers ago and I loved it. I still enjoy looking at the pictures and they bring back fun memories. I hope that you have fun on your road trip.

      This summer we are staying home and taking a few day trips around the province.

      Have fun.

    • profile image

      Pixienot 7 years ago

      Your hub is so timely for me. I am preparing to take a long road trip out to Nevada. I have written all your tips down.

      I hope you had a lovely trip!

      Voted up, useful and awesome. Thanks so much!

    • DynamicS profile image

      Sandria Green-Stewart 8 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      Daniel, thanks for sharing about the griplight. I'll definitely check it out. It sounds like a neat gadget which coule be used in the car or elsewhere. I hope that your trip was great.

      Take care and keep on motoring!

    • profile image

      Daniel 8 years ago

      I know that it might not matter if you are driving during the day, but I found this great tool for a car called a griplight. My friend used it on our last road trip to California and it let him see our map of the roads at night (were high schoolers and poor, it was sweet and it helped us not get lost. Here is some more info if you want to see it.

    • DynamicS profile image

      Sandria Green-Stewart 9 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      James, good to hear from you; thanks for your comment. I'd like to go to Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Arkansa some day. Wow! a mountain lion! that must be scary.

      Thanks for dropping by...

    • James A Watkins profile image

      James A Watkins 9 years ago from Chicago

      Great Hub! I made a similar road trip in February, traveling from Florida through Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee, Missouri, Arkansas, Alabama and Mississippi. I have old friends and family all along my route and had a great and peaceful trip—until I hit a mountain lion on my last leg home, in southern Georgia.

      Good advice and excellent information. Have fun!

    • DynamicS profile image

      Sandria Green-Stewart 9 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      Laughing mom, thanks for your comment. North America is so beautiful. It must have been excited to travel with your hubby. My aim is to eventually travel through all of the 50 states; I'm about half way. So many more places to see.

      Thanks for the reminder.

    • Laughing Mom profile image

      Laughing Mom 9 years ago

      Road trips used to be something I really looked forward to with my husband who travels frequently for business. But in the last 2 1/2 years, I've ridden through all but 7 of the States, and I'm ready to park myself at home for awhile.

      Great tips you have there. I'd say don't forget to update the GPS before you leave, too!!

    • DynamicS profile image

      Sandria Green-Stewart 9 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      SEM Pro, You are right I am excited about the trip. Thanks for your suggestions. I will definitely check out Cracker Barrel for the books on DVD. We are hoping to drive mostly during the day and stop over at nights, but thanks for the reminder about rush hours traffic.

      We have been to Washington before, so this time we will stop for a quick visit, as we are passing through to Maryland.

      Even though we have been to NY many times, we have never done the guided tour, so this time we are hoping to hop on one of the tours buses.

      Thanks for dropping by abd I'll keep you posted...

    • SEM Pro profile image

      SEM Pro 9 years ago from North America

      Good hub DynamicS - are you excited about going? Silly questions yes?! Sounds like a wonderful trip - almost all great states with much to see.

      If you listen to books-on-DVD/tape (a GREAT way to enjoy the miles without fatigue) the Cracker Barrel Restaurants in the states allow you to pick up a book for whatever the price is, then return it to any other location and they'll give you all but $4.50 (5 day use) back! They're all over the place and will give you a free map with their locations just to be sure (most in GPS). They also have good food. Some of the truck stops offer the same but they are fewer and far between.

      Another thing I always pay attention to is to drive through a city at night before stopping to avoid rush hours. Richmond Virginia for example has Hwy 95 going right through it and it almost doesn't matter what time of day you go through, it takes 3 hours for what ought to only take 35/40 minutes. Atlanta's Hwy 75 is about the same during usual traffic times and much worse when everyone is heading north or south for weekends.

      Other than that, be sure to plan a day in Washington for museums but park your car once - each parking place will cost $10 - $35, many places in NY are the same.

      HAVE FUN!!! I'll look for your many exciting hubs about the trip :)


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