Summer: Road Trip Season!
Summer road trip season is upon us. That means it’s time to reignite your passionate contempt for your closest friends and family while anaesthetizing your thighs on the rear bench of a Plymouth Grand Voyager. But before you take off on that grand voyage, consider these road trip tips.
#1 Safety First
Before you take off for Wawota, you should make sure that your vehicle is in good shape. A mechanic inspection can be a good safety measure. Short of that, you should personally inspect:
- Fluid levels – don’t run out of washer fluid during mosquito season
- Air filter – unless you enjoy breathing in desiccated grasshopper essence
- Air conditioner – because sitting still for six hours shouldn’t provoke heavy sweats
- Tire pressure – properly inflated tires prevent flats and deliver better fuel economy
#2 Are You Not Entertained?
Don’t throw yourself upon the mercy of small-town radio. That can put a strain on your marriage and make a two-hour journey feel like eight. Instead, make a road trip playlist with universally adored jams, like Franz Schubert’s “Erlkönig”. If you drive a relic, put it on a cassette or CD. If you’re using your smartphone, make sure you download the playlist. Music streaming can quickly turn into costly data overages.
If you’re likely to get bored of music, download some podcasts or a good audiobook. Nothing captures the spirit of sunshine and the unity of mankind like Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment.
#3 Plan For Construction
There’s nothing worse being stuck at an alternating, single-lane construction site on a hot highway. And, it’s Saskatchewan; if it’s above freezing, construction is happening somewhere. But, with the internet being readily available, there’s no excuse not to plan alternate routes around construction.
You can check out major roadway construction projects in Saskatchewan here.
#4 Don’t Get Stranded
Believe it or not, there are people in the age of smartphones that cannot change a flat tire. Before you begin any sort of road trip (or start driving anywhere!) learn how to change a tire. Provided you have the right equipment, it’s easy and quick. Of course, a spare tire can only get you so far. If you’re travelling a great distance, or in a remote area, you might want to invest in some form of roadside assistance. CAA and manufacturer services are both good options to help you avoid being stranded in the middle of nowhere.
#5 Bring Your Road Trip Documents
Having appropriate documentation is important when you’re driving near your home, so it’s doubly important when you’re far from it. Obviously, you should have your license with you. However, you should also make sure your registration and insurance information are on hand. If the unexpected happens, this will make your life significantly easier, and help you get back on the road more quickly.
#6 Have Kids?
If possible, leave them at home. Children are expensive and troublesome. Just kidding. Make sure you pack some unique entertainment options and let them get some exercise whenever you stop. Snacks help, too – as a distraction as well as an antidote to hunger. Also, it’s a myth that sugar causes hyperactivity, so don’t punish your children with Wheat Thins.
#7 Get Some Sleep
Fatigue accounts for hundreds of thousands of yearly traffic collisions. A good night’s sleep will help you remain alert and focused on the road. If you’re leaving early in the morning, or you had a late night, you should take some extra precautions for alertness. You can jury rig your neurons and synapses with caffeine and fast food. But the health and safety benefits of this method are debatable. Alternating between driving and napping with your passenger, or just pulling over are much safer solutions for tired drivers.
#8 Protect Your Stuff
A car full of road trip possessions is like a sunken treasure chest for thieves. Except that it’s not even sunken – it’s just parked at the Swift Current Mr. Sub. So, if you’re leaving your vehicle, take valuables, and essentials like I.D. with you, or lock them in the trunk. On the small chance you encounter highway bandits, you’ll have a little extra peace of mind.
#9 Save Some Gas Money
If you’re taking off for a long weekend, make sure you fuel up a day or two early. Gas stations will raise prices in anticipation of the urban exodus. Also, make sure you use cruise control. Cruise maintains your speed much more smoothly than you can. Each time you accelerate to resume your ideal speed, you lose fuel efficiency. That also means you should coast toward red lights (rather than jamming on the brakes) and accelerate more slowly. But the most important element for road trip fuel saving is reducing overall speed.
Most vehicles hit their peak fuel efficiency between 55 and 95km/hr. But some people assume that there is linear decrease in fuel efficiency with increased speed. That would mean the rate of increase in fuel consumption between 55 and 65km/hr is the same as the increase between 95 and 105km/hr, but that is not the case. The drop in fuel efficiency is exponential, meaning there is a speed at which your fuel economy will drastically worsen. That point is somewhere between 95 and 100km/hr. Experts have shown that every 10km/hr over 90km/hr will result in roughly 10% more fuel consumption. That’s no small number. If you make a habit of driving 120, you better get the most out of that time you’ve saved.
Have fun and be safe this summer! If you have any road trip tips of your own, feel free to share them in the comments below.