The weather is warm, the sun is out, and people everywhere are taking advantage of the long weekend and hitting the road. Road trips can be incredibly fun, but one mistake can quickly ruin the trip.
Here are some of the most common road trip mistakes and how to prevent them.
1) Getting Stuck in Traffic
Your bags are packed and loaded in the car. It's the first day of the long weekend, but in your mind you've been on vacation for weeks. You hit play on the first song of your "Road Trip Tunes" playlist. You're ready. As you pull off your street, you start to feel the wind blow through your hair when out of nowhere BAM! Cars upon cars upon cars of traffic. Sitting in traffic for hours is a waste of time and money. By sitting there idling, you'll burn through gas without going anywhere. Plan ahead to leave during a less busy time (early in the morning or just after rush hour), or find alternate routes with less traffic. You won't regret it.
2) Over-planning Your Trip
This one’s a very common and understandable mistake to make. Despite having the word "long" in its title, long weekends aren't very long at all. Three days can pass by in no time and having too much on your itinerary will cause unnecessary stress. Pick a few activities and take your time to enjoy them without having to constantly check your watch. If possible, leave some extra buffer time for any unexpected and spontaneous fun that you may come across.
3) Under-Budgeting For Your Trip
It's amazing how quickly that wallet can thin out. There are many unexpected road trip expenses that may surprise you. The price of gas can vary depending on the area, unexpected toll booths can swallow up your change, and even ATM/Debit fees can rack up extremely quickly. Remember that when you're on vacation, the rest of the world isn't. You'll have to deal with any additional debt once you get back to the real world. Always take a few moments to properly budget for your long weekend, and have some additional cash tucked away in case of an emergency. Small expenses, including roadside snacks and souvenirs, can quickly add up.
4) Not Knowing When You're Fit to Drive
Making good time on the road should never be at the expense of safety. According to the Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators, sleep deprivation is responsible for up to 21 per cent of motor vehicle collisions, causing roughly 400 deaths and 2,100 serious injuries every year. Do not become a statistic. If you are tired, find somewhere safe to sleep and call it a night. Nothing is worth putting yourself and others in danger. Obviously, the same applies to any other kind of impaired driving Including drunk driving and distracted driving.
5) Not Bringing Entertainment
Road trips are usually a great time for chatting with your loved ones and playing road trip games for kids, but during lulls it's great to break up the trip with music and podcasts. Take the time to make some fun road trip playlists that will have everyone singing along. Everyone can also bring along their own tunes and take turns being the Road Trip DJ. Lastly, there are so many fascinating and entertaining podcasts on virtually any subject. Time always flies by while listening to a truly great podcast.
6) Not Properly Securing Equipment to Your Car
There is nothing quite like testing out new bike trails or paddling in a new lake on vacation. But this will prove difficult for you to do if your boat is sitting in the middle of the highway after falling off the roof of your car. Make sure that anything you have on the roof of your car is properly securely and attached. This is a very dangerous mistake to make that can hurt people, cause accidents, and damage your property.
7) Not Factoring In Kids (If You Have Them)
If you're going on a road trip with kids, you must be prepared for constant bathroom breaks, random temper tantrums, and complaining. Most kids simply don't have the patience or attention span for long stretches of time in the car. Road trips with children usually take longer for these reasons. However, there are lots of ways to have fun while travelling with kids. Play their favourite music, pack a variety of treats and toys and store them in easy to reach places, and plan for frequent but interesting stops.
8) Not Being Prepared For an Emergency/Breakdown
While on the road, you must expect the unexpected. Accidents do happen, so it’s important to be prepared in case of an emergency. The first step is always to have proper auto insurance and travel insurance to help cover any potential expenses . In addition to this, take a few moments before you depart to ensure your vehicle is properly equipped should you find yourself waiting at the side of the road.
- Always keep a large jug of extra water in the car along with snacks
- If it cools off in the evening, pack warm clothes and blankets in case you need to spend the night in the car
- Make sure your cell phones are charged if you need to call for roadside assistance. In case your cell phone does die, always have a road map and compass in the car with you
- Keep a first aid kit, flashlight, and tool kit with you in the car
Hopefully there won't be a need for any of these items, but when caught in a jam, you'll be happy that you were prepared. A little extra planning goes a long way—especially on a long weekend.