Road trips can be a great way to get out of town and explore other areas outside of your own backyard. We hop in the car as often as we can to avoid expensive flights and also because we love the freedom of being out on the open road.
We live in Southern California, where driving safely is not top priority. Here are a few examples of the people you may encounter while on the road and the best way to deal with some of them.
This one is especially dangerous if it is raining or the roads are slick. This is the person who constantly uses their brakes on the freeway. Driving behind somebody who is constantly breaking can lead to anxiety and having to constantly be on guard in order to not slam into them. I usually exit the lane or keep a 2-3 car distance between this type of driver.
No Signal Dude
This is about 80% of people who live in Southern California. For some reason, people don’t feel the need to use their signal as a courtesy to other drivers. Maybe they don’t see the value in using a blinker. All I know is it sure would be nice to know you are going to cut me off before you do it!
This is one of my least favorite drivers. Since I have been rear-ended more than once, it makes me really nervous when somebody rides my ass. (Nothing dirty intended here.) I don’t trust other drivers to be able to stop in time if Brake Happy Bitch is in front of me and we all have to stop suddenly. This is also a big pet peeve of mine when I’m riding as a passenger in a car. You will find me clutching the seat or the ‘oh shit handle’ in the car if somebody is driving too close to the car in front.
This is a driver who drives at the exact speed of the person next to them so you cannot pass. You can choose to honk at a Blocker to let them know they are being a jerk, but this doesn’t always work.
Constant Lane Changer
This person is either the weaver who drives at mock speed trying to pass everybody on the freeway or the person in bumper to bumper traffic who always thinks the lane next to them is faster than the one they are in. Usually Constant Lane Changers are also No Signal Dudes.
I think this one is self explanatory. You never know how to anticipate a Drifters next move or how drunk they are. It is best to stay away from Drifters just in case they are wasted.
This is the is driver who has a “What Would Jesus Do?”, “Jesus Loves Me”, or some kind of Jesus sticker on their car. You can easily recognize this driver because once they cut you off, you get a perfect view of their bumper sticker.
I’m not saying I’m a perfect driver. I sometimes do stupid things on the road, but I think the world would be a better place if we could all try our best not to exhibit the characteristics of the type of drivers listed above.
Now that I’ve gotten my rant out of the way…
Here are a few tips for taking a road trip in the USA.
Take Breaks Often
Either stop and walk around if you are by yourself or switch off every two hours if you have a partner. Set up camp in the back of your car (especially good if you have an SUV) for movies, relaxing or sleeping.
I’m a big fan of traveling with a GPS. You may be able to easily navigate if you stay on the highways, but what if you get lost or want to deviate a bit? In this case, a GPS is a huge plus. I can’t tell you how many times I took a wrong turn and the GPS saved me so much time and stress. These days, some GPS devices come with free live traffic updates. Wow! What a time saver to help get around construction and accidents. I’ve been waiting for this feature for forever.
Get a map! If you have AAA, they will plan your entire route for you and will even detour you around construction areas. This atlas contains maps of every U.S. state and it’s 35% larger than standard maps, so it’s perfect for road-weary eyes.
Come on, this is just common sense. Who wants to sit in a quiet car for the whole ride? It makes it so much more pleasant to drive while listening to some good tunes. So don’t forget your Ipod, mp3 player, CDs, tapes, 8-tracks or whatever goes in your car. I guess you can listen to the radio, but what radio station plays all the music that you want?
Sometimes, the music, books on tape, conversation or whatever else you decide to do just gets old. This is the perfect time to play some road games. Ok, maybe I’m just a giant dork, but I like to play stupid games. Some that I play are I spy, license plate game, 20 questions, and dressing up our friend’s dog. Mad Libs on the Road is a great game for families or a group of friends.
Water and Snacks
It may not seem like it because your sitting around most of the time, but you can get dehydrated, which can lower your concentration and even make you tired. Also, get some snacks. It’s not like you’re going to starve out there, but sometimes it gets a little boring on a stretch of road without any exciting scenery. Some comfort food may be just the thing to brighten you back up.
Make sure you’re scheduled maintenances are up to date and your car is in tip top shape. If you are planning a long distance trip, you may want to get an oil change before you leave. Check your fluids (windshield washer fluid, radiator fluid, transmission fluid) and tire pressure.
Make sure your wiper blades are up to par (it’s no fun getting stuck in a rain storm with crappy windshield wipers). Take a look at the tread on your tires and be aware if they are showing any cracks on the sides.
If your car is not in good shape, or simply will not cut it for the type of trip you are taking, it might be worth your while to rent a car. Places like Hertz Local and Enterprise often have cheap weekend specials starting at $9.99.
Roadside Safety Kit
A few items to keep in the car include; a flashlight, jumper cables, first aid kit, ice scraper (if you will be traveling through cold areas) working jack for your car, spare tire, glow sticks or reflective triangle, a couple of rags, and a few basic tools (screwdriver, adjustable wrench). AAA sells a 42-piece emergency road assistance kit for $25!