With gas prices remaining relatively low this summer, and with many families on limited budgets, car travel is extremely popular right now. But with so many cars on the road, car trouble is bound to happen. Plus, when you’re traveling with children of any age, it’s more important to be prepared for whatever happens. Here are 5 tips to staying safe on the road as you get ready for your road trip.

1. Auto maintenance. Before you head out on the road, make sure your vehicle is road ready. Check your vehicle’s manual for the recommended maintenance schedule and make sure the oil’s been changed, the tire pressure is just right, and the fluids have been topped off, including the gas. But just in case your car or SUV gives you trouble on the road, double check that you have your road assistance membership up to date, the card in your purse or vehicle, and your cell phone (and car charger!) before you hit the road.

2. Emergency Road Kit. So, you headed out on the road all prepared for an easy drive and your vehicle starts acting up on you. Or, you see another motorist who needs assistance, and you’re feeling like a good Samaritan. Although it will be a huge inconvenience, you can be better prepared with a few basic car care items. A multi-purpose fire extinguisher is not all that expensive and it can save someone’s life, even on the road. You should always carry a tire gauge, jack, lug wrench, and a can of foam tire sealant. You never know when you’ll need to repair or change a flat tire.          Jumper cables and a flashlight round out this basic emergency road kit.

3. Car insurance. Before you even pull out of the driveway, be sure that your car insurance is up to date and that the current card is in your glove box, along with your registration. The card will have the phone number to call the claims center in the event of an accident.

4. First aid kit. A first aid kit comes in handy, especially when you’re away from home. From minor scrapes, to bug bites and burns, having a kit handy in your vehicle may help you avoid trips to the drug or grocery store while on vacation. It should include things like bandages in different sizes, gauze, alcohol wipes, bug spray, sunscreen, some baby wipes or paper towels (for spills), pain relief medicine, a small pair of scissors, eye wash, and antibiotic ointment. Refill after each trip and you’ll always stay prepared.

5. Sanity savers. As a single mom driving with 6- and 8-year old girls, my attention needs to be on the road and not on refereeing the impossible-to-avoid fights between the girls in the back seat. When they’re prepared with things to keep themselves occupied the trip doesn’t seem as long. We start the ride with old-school things like books and car games like searching for out of state license plates. When the girls get bored with those, we move on to electronic distractions like Nintendo DS games and movies on the portable DVD player. If you only stop for bathroom and gas breaks, make sure that everybody gets a chance to stretch their legs for a few minutes before you get back in the vehicle. Before you know, you’ll have arrived at your destination ready for loads of fun.

Car travel usually won’t get your there more quickly than airplane or train travel, but it’s usually less expensive. By being prepared before you leave your driveway, you’re more apt to have just as much fun on your way to and from your destination, as you are at your destination. By spending a little time getting your vehicle ready, you’ll be less anxious while driving or riding. And don’t forget to take lots of pictures so you’ll have memories to share for a long time.

Thank you to Monique for providing this article.

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