Road trips are a sadly overlooked and underrated approach to a great family vacation. Many of us are unaware of the myriad benefits in terms of convenience, money saving and good old fashioned fun when compared to a typical vacation involving prices flights and hotels. A road trip can be a fun way to bring the whole family together on a shared adventure across the country where the open road is your playground and the horizon always brings new and fun activities for you and your family. The trick, of course, lies in ensuring that you do it safely and while loading your car with valuables and hitting the road may seem a risky proposition to some, the reality is that a few important checks and some forward planning combined with a little common sense and vigilance can lead to one of the safest and most enjoyable family vacations you could want.
The Benefits of Road Tripping
In case you’re not quite sold on the concept, let’s look at some of the way road trips trump other airplane dependent vacations. All flyers are familiar with the dreaded scramble to get the family to the check-in desk on time, the nerve shredding anticipation of getting to the terminal and the undiluted frustration when flights are delayed or cancelled. Road trippers, on the other hand, are not beholden to departure times nor are their plans demolished by flight delays and cancellations. When you take your family on the road, you have total control over your journey.
Sure, you can (and should) set an itinerary, but you can adhere to it as much or as little as the mood dictates. You can stop, detour and divert as much as you like. If traffic gets bad, you can exit the freeway and find somewhere to grab a snack. If you feel the need to stop to take in some beautiful scenery, that’s no problem either. If you feel a little drowsy you can stop for a coffee and a bathroom break without having to wait hours upon hours.having this degree of freedom and control takes a good deal of the inevitable stress and panic out of travelling while still allowing the family a sense of fun, adventure and variety.
The cost is an important factor too. Flights don’t come cheap, nor does hotel accommodation especially when you’re dealing with international flights and less than favorable exchange rates. If you have a larger family with two or more kids air travel can be prohibitively expensive. Even domestic flights for a family of four or more can cost thousands of dollars, taking up a serious chunk of your travel budget. If you’re towing a trailer, you’re carrying your hotel behind you and making significant savings in the process.
Airline restrictions on hold luggage can lead families to make some agonizing decisions when it comes to packing. Few parents travel light, especially if they’re travelling with very young children who will require more creature comforts from home to enjoy the journey than their older counterparts. Road trippers can pack whatever they want and not just what they need. If you want to bring a travel grill, go right ahead!
Car Safety Essentials
Now that we’ve gone over the benefits, it’s time to talk about the serious stuff that will ensure your family’s safety and your peace of mind. If you’re taking your own car on the road, it’s important to carry out certain checks to ensure that your car is up to the journey and safe for your children. In fact, many very experienced drivers lack the car literacy to know how safe their car is and they may be driving their children around in unsafe vehicles without ever realizing it. Even though your car may feels absolutely fine on the road it’s important to carry out checks that will prevent unexpected hazards.
There are some chilling statistics when it comes to child safety in cars. In 2015, 666 children aged 12 and under were killed in car accidents while almost 132,000 children were were injured. Of course, injury victims can be compensated but it would be even better if the injuries can be avoided to begin with. Tragic though this may be, the good news is that most of these tragedies could have been prevented by taking basic safety precautions.
If you’re travelling with small children, the single most important thing is to make sure that they have an appropriate car seat. Child car safety is a growth market with a whole host of choices coming to the market every year with car seats becoming incrementally safer, more comfortable, more affordable and easier to install. This can become a double edged sword with so many car seats on the market that it becomes confusing. Fortunately, https://babyseats.reviews offers great reviews of convertible baby car seats. There are plenty of other useful car seat review resources out there too! For example, if your parents are going to be taking your little one on vacation to give you a break, then this guide to the best car seat for grandparents might come in useful. Again, be sure to do your research to find the right car seat for your needs! Ultimately, government data indicates that the installation of a car seat reduces the risk of infant death by 71% and child death for those aged 1-4 by 54%. These figures are provided the right car seat is in use for the height, weight and age of your child, for example looking at a car seat for 4-year-olds on CuteLittleDarling should only be used for those aged 4 while reviewing the comparison table for each seat. Thus, while shopping for car seats may be confusing, it is extremely important.
Speaking of safety, seat belts save over 15,000 lives a year in the United States so if you’re travelling with kids too old for a car seat, make sure that they buckle up in the back. With time and wear, seat belts can become worn and frayed. This may not seem to impede their function in normal driving but even slight fraying can seriously harm a seat belt’s efficacy in a collision. Worn looking seat belts should be replaced as soon as possible.
Wheels and tyres may also be compromised without the driver realizing. Though many of us keep an eye on our tyre treads, wheels can be damaged in more subtle ways. Hitting curbs and potholes at high speeds can cause buckling in the wheels, bending them out of shape in ways that impinge on the tire and can potentially lead to a blowout. Tyre sidewalls should also be checked for bulges, cracks and gouges in the sidewall which could also potentially lead to a blowout.
Unless you’ve changed your bakes within 12 months, you should invest in new pads and discs before setting off on your road trip. Very often we’re unaware of how spongy and unresponsive our brakes are (especially when we drive the car every day) until we get them changed.
Preventing Driver Fatigue
Finally, it’s important to address driver fatigue which can potentially compromise your family’s safety. If you’re covering some serious miles on your road trip or want to make up time it can be tempting to power on through, but to do so can seriously endanger your family. Drowsy driving:
- Reduces your attention span and makes you less able to perceive hazards.
- Slows your reaction time.
- Compromises your decision making.
Drowsy driving accounts for around 6,000 fatal traffic accidents a year so it’s important to take necessary precautions.
- Share driving duties with your partner and establish a rota of driving.
- Take a short break around every two hours.
- Stay hydrated. This will ensure that you remain alert. Your kids won’t begrudge you the bathroom breaks.
- Snack often but snack right. While fatty, salty and sugary rest stop snacks may be tempting they can lead to severe peaks and troughs in your blood sugar causing you to become drowsy. Snacking on dried fruits and nuts will stabilize your blood sugar and keep you alert.
- While stopping for a coffee is sometimes a good idea, you should be wary of too much caffeine. Excessive caffeine intake can wreak havoc with your metabolism causing you to oscillate between being jittery and paranoid to sluggish and drowsy.
Fortunately, by following these simple safety hints you can ensure your family’s safety and lay the foundation for a wonderful family vacation.