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Tips On Driving Through A Desert
How to Prepare for Driving Through A Desert
Road trips are the fun, educational and inexpensive family vacations, especially when your kids are in grade school. Road trips provides the best opportunity for the kids to learn geography and social cultures in different places. Traveling across landforms that are different from where they live are especially helpful and valuable. We live in a big city that is nestled in a valley, it was an eye opening opportunity for our kids when we took a road trip that involving drive through deserts.
To prepare for the road trip, if you're traveling with your kids, I would recommend a SUV or van or minivan which has more space for storing essential items and with the right equipment can also be used in an emergency situation as a bathroom inside your vehicle.
Make sure your vehicle is in good condition. It is highly recommend that your vehicle has a complete check-up before the trip.
Fill up a tank full of gasoline before heading out into the desert. There will be gas stations along the way but distances between them can get quite far and the gasoline is likely to be more expensive than it is in a city or town.
The Essential Things to Bring on A Desert Drive Through
Although there are people living in the deserts, there are very few stores for you to get what you may need when you need them. So try to prepare and bring your own stuff. Here are the checklist for a road trip in a desert:
Food: You need to pack enough food that can last for at least 3 days in case you're stuck in the middle of the desert and can't get help right away. Please keep in mind that it will take a longer time to get help in a desert than in place where more people live. Pack food that doesn't go bad within a week, such as crackers, snack bars and cereals.
Water: Prepare a gallon of water per person per day. You might need more water because the temperature is very high during the day. If your car breaks down you won't have the air conditioning to keep you cool. So water can help keep you from becoming dehydrated.
Cooler: Keep some of your water in a cooler so that you don't need to drink hot water if you spend your day in the desert without air conditioning.
Portable toilet: Most of the time you can find restrooms in stores and gas stations. But it is unpredictable on how far they can be spaced far apart. Worse yet, if you're in a storm and need to go badly, a portable toilet can save the day. You don't have to spend a lot of money buying a portable toilet. A bucket and some good plastic bags will do the trick. It is the same concept as how people use plastic bag to wrap around a garbage can to hold garbage, then discard the whole bag when it is ready to throw the contents away.
Blanket: Keep a blanket in the trunk just in case you need to spend a night or two in the desert. The temperature can drop very low even during summer time.
Flashlight: A flashlight will come in handy if you do need to spend the night in the desert.
First Aid kit: Make sure you have your First Aid kit every time you're far away from home, such as bandages, scissors, fingernail clipper, knife, medications for fever, stomach pain, tooth pain, etc.
What to Expect During A Desert Drive Through
You need to be cautious as you're driving through a desert. There are a lot of unpredictable things in a desert, such as fast changing weather, sand/dust/bug storms and road construction or repairs along the winding freeways.
Weather in a desert
The weather in a desert can change fast. A sunny day can change to thunder storms within 30 minutes. Or half of the sky is bright and sunny while the other half is flashing lightning from angry dark cloud followed by loud thunder claps. The temperature can easily climb above 100 degree Fahrenheit and drop below 50 degree Fahrenheit at night
Sand/Dust storm in a desert
The sand/dust storm might greet you unexpectedly. For your safety, make sure to slow down or stop your vehicle depending upon the degree of the sand storm when you encounter one. Luckily, we only saw small dust devil during our last road trip in the desert. It rushed across the freeway and disappeared within a minute. We were disturbed a little, but then were able to continue to process on our way.
Bug storm in a desert
The bug storm was a big surprise to us. Believe it or not, we met a large quantity of bugs flew across the freeway in a group. At first we thought it was just another small sand or dust storm moving toward the freeway from a distance - about 1/10 mile away from where we first noticed it, but the color was a lot darker than the sand storm we saw the other time. We slowed down a little as precaution. But when we reached the point where the dark storm crossing the freeway, 80% of our windshield was covered with smashed bugs.
Highways/Freeways in deserts
The highways/freeways in deserts are most likely just one lane for each direction. However, there are passing lanes spaced along the way so that the slower traffic can move to the right lane to yield for the vehicles behind them. There are signs to alert you for the upcoming passing lanes. You can also use the opposite traffic lane to pass the slow vehicle in front of you when you see dash line as dividing line and no cars coming in that lane. Although there usually are very few cars traveling on desert freeways, you might not able to see the car coming from the opposite lane due to the either the hilly or winding landscape or road construction. We witnessed an accident and kept reminding ourselves not to use that option to pass slower traffic as the risk is too high. I understand the frustration inching up the hill behind a big truck hauling three large containers. But safety should come first and you should wait until there is a passing lane for you to pass more safely . It is very important that you follow the traffic rules and never cross the solid double yellow line or when the solid line is on your side of the road.