Essential Safety Tips For Your Next Family Road Trip


Packed bags, check! Filled cooler, check! Snacks, check! Full tank, check! You may feel you’re ready to hit the road for your next family vacation. But getting ready for a family trip on the road involves more than the stuff you carry along with you. If you’re planning your next family vacation by road, your vehicle is going to serve as your family’ home’ for the trip’s duration.

That means safety should be of primary importance to you, especially if you take the kids along. So, are you getting ready for a beautiful family experience on the road? Are you confident that you have put all the safety measures in place?

Well, to be absolutely sure, take a look at the following safety tips for a family vacation on the road. 

Check the car

Checking the car might sound like a no-brainer, but this should be the first thing you do.

And we’re not merely talking about giving your vehicle a quick optical scan from a distance. Checking your car has to do with ensuring that it is in the best condition for a long-distance journey. The best thing to do is get your vehicle serviced by a professional at least a week before you set off.

By yourself, you can check for any leakages, check the oil level, and fill up your car a few days prior. Also, clean your windows, check the water pressure and the tires – and be sure to carry a spare tire along. It would be best if you scheduled regular maintenance and tune-ups the few months leading to your road trip.

That might sound like a lot of work, but it will help prevent any unexpected breakdown. 

Prepare for the sun

Unless you’re taking a daring adventure during Winter (which is dangerous and not advisable), you should make sure you’re sun-smart.

Ensure that every member of your travel tea is well-equipped with sunglasses and sunscreen products. If you have little ones, try getting a sunshade for your backseat and make some hats available for them. Aside from the blanket in your safety kit, take an additional one along. You will need this to cover the safety seats when you leave the car, as this will keep it from getting too hot.

Oh! And, never leave your children alone in the vehicle for any reason, especially during the day. As temperatures rise outside, any parked car’s interior can hit dangerous figures in a matter of seconds. 

Secure the backseat

Kids have super curious hands, so be sure to activate all child safety locks on doors and windows.

Next, get rid of any poisonous substance, for example, washer fluid. Scan your backseat for anything representing a potential choking hazard, from loose change hiding in between the seats to knobs that fall off easily. Also, get rid of anything that can be tossed into the air if you come to a sudden halt.

Anything that isn’t strapped in will quickly become a projectile. Therefore, things like books, toys, etc., should be stored in the boot instead of lying around in the backseat.

Towing

If you’re planning to tow a boat, a trailer, a caravan, or any other thing for your trip, there are few extra measures you need to put in place before you set off.

First, install towing mirrors. Anytime you tow something, you present an obstacle to your rearview vision, making it difficult to keep track of what’s happening behind you. A towing mirror will help remedy the situation. Secondly, be sure to connect your safety chain and ensure that it is secure. Finally, check to see if the tail lights of the extra load are functioning correctly.

And, of course, don’t forget to carry spare Michelin tires for your extra load.

Buckle up!

We have already mentioned how loose objects can easily be launched into the air if the vehicle comes to a sudden halt. The same applies to your passengers, especially the little ones. Therefore, always ensure that everyone is strapped in before leaving. Safety first! 

Also, be sure to use booster seats and child safety seats where needed and that they remain strapped in for as long as the vehicle is on the move. 

Adjust your posture

Many people might not consider sitting posture to be too much of a deal, but it actually is.

For example, it is essential to sit upright when driving, as slouching can make you feel a little bit drowsy. Also, do not slide too far off the steering, as this will force you to straighten your legs. Ideally, your legs should bend to make it easier to exert enough pressure on the brake pedal when you need to.

It would help if you also bent your elbows slightly to make full use of your strength when you need to turn the wheel.

Prepare for any on-road emergency

Even after conducting all the vital safety checks on your car, the unexpected always has a way of showing up.

And as much as you may hate the idea of being caught up in a roadside emergency, you need to prepare for that possibility. The first thing you need to do is have an emergency kit in your vehicle.

It should include the following, at least – food that can last you a couple of days, bottles of water, blankets, extra clothing and shoes, flashlights, flare lights, a shovel, match, and candles. It should also contain a first aid kit with a seatbelt cutter. 

It is also essential to keep your cell phone charged, have a charged spare battery, as well as every vital contact number saved on your phone or written down in a book.

Also, make sure to check with your vehicle manufacturer, mechanic, or auto insurance provider to see if they offer roadside emergency assistance. You might also need to have the necessary legal contacts in case you find yourself in an accident.

Depending on the circumstances that led to the accident (especially if you or anyone member of your family is responsible), you may need to rely on bail bonds and insurance covers to help you get out of trouble.

Plan your route

If you have an idea of where you want to go, you probably have mapped out a semi-organized strategy.

But if you’re readying yourself to explore routes you haven’t used before, it is best to take enough time to plan. Fortunately, the days of carrying a large paper map along with you are fast disappearing. Today, all you need is a smartphone and internet supply to access almost any route you need.

Even without internet supply, an app like Google Maps is ideal, as it allows you to access the maps you need offline. Plus, you will have the added company of the soothing voice of the ‘Google lady’ to prepare in advance for each turn. Several other navigation or map apps are available to choose from.

The most important thing is to ensure that you enter the correct details before you set off. But if the old-style paper maps still work best for you, go for it!

Share the road

Recognize that other motorists have the right to use the road just as you do.

Keep your eyes open for people on bicycles, motorcycles, as well as pedestrians on foot. Their smaller sizes usually make them more vulnerable than you. Also, do not drive distracted. Texting while driving, for example, will put the lives of everyone in the vehicle at risk.

So, try to lead by example. 

Jeff Campbell

Jeff Campbell is a husband, father, martial artist, budget-master, Disney-addict, musician, and recovering foodie having spent over 2 decades as a leader for Whole Foods Market. Click to learn more about me

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