Long Distance Driving Tips and Tricks

Long distance driving and your summer road trip.

As the temperature climbs, driving rises with it. Indeed, from Memorial Day to Labor Day gas prices are typically at the highest levels as supply stays just ahead of demand. Summer is also when long-distance driving becomes more commonplace as families head out on vacation. Before you take your next major road trip, keep the following tips and tricks in mind.

Long Distance Driving

1. Early planning. Make sure that your car is road-ready by changing the oil and swapping out the air filter before you leave. If your tires have not been rotated these past 5,000 miles do so now. Replace your tires if the tread life is near its end or if your tires are more than six years old. Complete your major long-distance driving preparation 7 to 10 days before you leave.

long-distance driving2. Emergency kit and supplies. Pull out your emergency kit to review that the items needed are present and still useful. You may need to replace batteries, put in a new jug of water, include a fresh pack of flares and add in new hand cleaner. Your kit should also include foam tire sealant, spare fuses, a working flashlight, a fire extinguisher and a first-aid kit. A backup cell phone battery, small bills and loose change can come in handy. A blanket, spare clothing and footwear may be useful for any long-distance driving excursion.

3. Pack smart. Quite easily you can overload your car. Just as easily some of that extra baggage might best be left at home. Consider what you want to bring and what you need to bring. Every 100 lbs. added will reduce your gas mileage by 2 percent. Place your heaviest items in the center of the trunk or storage compartment too much weight on one side can affect handling. Do not obscure your line of sight and make sure everything is securely in place a sudden stop can send unsecured items flying.

4. Food and beverages. Likely, you will be doing much eating while on the road. Just as likely you may be tempted to stock up on sweets, fatty snacks and sugary beverages. Sugar can give you a burst of energy and then sap you of your strength. Energy drinks may be the better choice, but always drink water. Limit your caffeine consumption and keep your snack items within easy reach. For meals, pull over and enjoy a picnic or find a place to dine eating and driving can be a distraction. Bring with you napkins, hand wipes and paper towels.

5. Head on out. Choose the best time to hit the road, getting ample rest before you begin your long distance driving trip. If you head out before sunrise, you may still be tired. Bring coffee or tea with you and eat a light meal before getting started. Have your route mapped out in advance and plan to take breaks at least once every two hours. If you will be traveling more than 500 miles, spread your road trip over two days or trade off with another driver. If tired, leave the highway and take a nap of at least 10 minutes advises the US Department of Transportation. Shift your transmission into overdrive and use cruise control for maximum fuel savings.

Travel Considerations

Rely on your navigation system or GPS device to help get you where you are going. Key in your roadside assistance number before heading out and call for assistance if your car breaks down and you cannot handle repairs yourself.

If your long distance driving trip will take you through an isolated region, you may want to give your route information to a family member or a friend. Expect that you will be out of cell phone range at times and may need a concerned person to keep tabs on you if your arrival has been delayed.

Further Reading

Summer Tires for the Ultimate in Driving Performance

5 Fuel Savings Tips for Savvy Drivers

Author: Matthew Keegan
Matt Keegan has maintained his love for cars ever since his father taught him kicking tires can be one way to uncover a problem with a vehicle’s suspension system. He since moved on to learn a few things about coefficient of drag, G-forces, toe-heel shifting, and how to work the crazy infotainment system in some random weekly driver. Matt is a member of the Washington Automotive Press Association and is a contributor to various print and online media sources.

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