10 Lifesaving Road Trip Tips

Lyndon Bell
by Lyndon Bell
October 3, 2014
5 min. Reading Time

As much fun as the adventure part of traveling can be, the best part of a road trip is coming home safely. These ten lifesaving road tip trips will help you do just that. If you’re looking for typical lifesaving road trip tips, you’re going to want to go here. These tips are literally about saving your life.

Know Where You’re Going—And Tell Someone

A huge part of making it back is knowing where you’re going in the first place. This is true for a couple of reasons. One—it helps you plan so you’ll have the things you’ll need should adversity strike. And two —it gives you the ability to share your plans, so people will have an idea of where to start looking if you aren’t back when you said you’d be. This isn’t to say you shouldn’t indulge side trip impulses within the framework of the overall trip; but there’s a reason pilots file a flight plan. Wandering off the beaten path can be fun—when you do, let somebody know. Always maintain a lifeline back home.


Make Sure Your Ride Is Ready

Starting a road trip on four bald tires and in a car that hasn’t been properly serviced or maintained is just asking to get stranded out in the middle of nowhere. Regardless of the length of the trip, go over the maintenance basics before you hit the highway. Make sure all of your fluids are topped up and not leaking. If you haven’t had an oil change in a while, get one—oil helps your engine keep its cool, in addition to making all the metal parts slide against one another unencumbered. Make sure your tires are aired up properly too—the correct pressures are on a sticker in the driver’s doorjamb of your vehicle. You’ll find more preparation tips here.


Bring Along The Right Gear

As we mentioned earlier, knowing where you’re going can help you prepare for what you might encounter along the way. Heading into snow country? Make sure you have snow tires, or at least a good set of chains. Not to mention blankets, a good heavy coat, shoes suitable for walking in snow, a shovel, and a bag of kitty litter should you need additional traction at some point. Heading down south or into the desert where temperatures are high? Make sure your coolant is up to the task, your wardrobe will properly support you in the environment, and you have water to prevent dehydration. 


Follow the Rules of the Road

Do you really need to go 80 miles per hour down the Interstate if you’re supposed to be on a relaxing holiday? Take your time, see the landscape, avoid cops, and save money by not burning more fuel than necessary. Most of all, avoid getting yourself into potentially hazardous situations. Simply put, follow the rules of the road. Keep a good distance between you and other cars, pay attention to the road surface and drive accordingly. Do everything possible to stay out of incident inviting situations. Road rage has no place on a vacation. So what if you got cut off? Live, let live, and survive to travel the next day.


Get Out And Walk

Did you know remaining seated for extended periods of time compresses the blood veins in your legs and can cause clots to form? These clots can then break free, travel through your blood stream, lodge in one of your lungs, and cause you to experience a pulmonary embolism—which could kill you. In other words, not stopping every so often on a road trip really is death defying. Hey, we’re all for making good time, but making good time needs to be redefined as getting where you’re going in a reasonable amount of time while taking rest stops into consideration. On four-hour road trips or longer, take walking stops every half hour to keep your blood circulating freely.


Staying Awake – Part I

Long haul truckers will tell you extended drives can be as boring as all get-out. And, when the human mind experiences boredom, sleep usually follows. Here’s the thing, fatigue can make it happen faster. So make sure you get a good night’s sleep before you set out. If you’re starting out at night, make sure you get some sleep just before you get on the road. When you awaken from that nap, eat a healthy meal. Fats, salt, and sugar—yes, fast food— will make you sleepy. By healthy, we mean nutrient rich. B vitamins and vitamin C give you energy; take them with the meal. Avoid sugary foods and “energy” drinks; these ultimately serve to make you more tired.


Staying Awake - Part II

Again, boredom can lead to sleepy time; so make sure you have some good entertainment with you in the car. Download interesting podcasts and books on tape to keep your mind occupied. Your favorite music will only take you so far, no matter how loudly you play it. After a while, you just won’t hear it anymore. Sometimes you simply need a break. If you start noticing drowsy creeping up on you, stop, get out, walk around a bit, get some fresh air. If all else fails, there ain’t no shame in your game if napping knows your name. Pulling off and catching forty winks is better than crashing into something trying to fight off a few blinks.


Avoid Driving In Heavy Weather

Part of the reason for knowing where you’re going is anticipating the conditions to expect when you get there, as well as along the way. Map your route, consult Weather.com, and get a feel for what the sky is going to be doing where you’re going while you’re on the road. Regardless of how badly you want to go, or how much to had to forego to carve out this specific block of time, if your plans mean you’ll be heading into gale force winds, blinding blizzards, or a volcanic eruption—do you really need to get all up in that piece? The beauty of America is there’s always someplace else to go. Flexibility has saved many a life.


If You Can’t Avoid Driving In Weather

In a lightning storm stay in your car, if lightning strikes it, your car will conduct the energy away from you. In a hurricane or heavy rains, avoid standing water, it can be way deeper than it looks and there’s no telling what’s underneath it—go around it. In a tornado, if you can’t get away from the cloud, and there’s no low-lying area close by to duck into, stop the car, buckle up, put your head down below the level of the windows and hope for the best. If there’s room to get away, drive at a right angle to the tornado’s path and get out of Dodge—unless, of course, you’re in a Dodge. For snowstorm tips, click here.


And, Of Course…

There is absolutely no place on a road trip—or frankly any time when driving—for drugs and alcohol. If you’re on prescription medications, make certain the side effects do not include drowsiness, hallucinations, or anything potentially counter to maintaining control of your vehicle at all times. Which, of course immediately eliminates all alcoholic beverages and other recreational narcotics. We know for a certain segment of the population driving down the road with a beer in your lap seems innocuous. (Wait, we should use a different word there. If you’re one of those people, you probably don’t understand innocuous means “no big deal’.) But it is a very huge deal. One beer could be the death of you.


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