We have many choices when it comes to travel—but one of the more open-ended ways is traveling by road. In fact, the idea of a road trip has developed into something of an iconic idea. You will not find many books on air or rail travel–but there is an abundance of books and movies on road trips. In fact, Jack Kerouac’s book, On the Road, which is based on his travel across the United States with his friends is considered something of a postwar literary classic.
The reason we love road trips is because they give us a taste of adventure that well-coordinated trips by air or rail simply cannot provide. Much of this adventure comes from unexpected surprises along the way, ranging from meeting interesting people to discovering fascinating places.
Still, some planning is necessary to avoid things getting too out of control. You should, for example, have the right apps on your smartphone and take a road atlas with you, too, so that you have a general idea of where you are going. You should also be sure to pack properly, have an electronic entertainment plan, and take plenty of food to snack on during those long stretches on the open road.
However, here are a few extra suggestions that many people might not think about when planning a trip:
1. Don’t forget to check up on your important documents.
You will ruin your trip if you are stopped by the traffic police for some reason and discover that you have forgotten your wallet at home with all your important documents. Also, make sure that nothing has expired or is set to expire when you are on the road.
Every state requires that you at least carry liability insurance. While, of course, there are many options beyond this basic policy, be sure to check on your insurance to make sure it is up-to-date before you pull out of the driveway on your big adventure. Also, make sure you have your other paperwork with you and that it’s also current—driver’s license, roadside emergency membership cards, and so on.
2. Take appropriate steps to protect yourself from health risks and injury.
If you have any medical conditions, you may want to have a quick medical checkup before you leave and get your prescriptions filled to make sure that you have your meds with you on the road. Another thing you may want to consider is to take out some travel insurance. Also, take all necessary medical information or health-related documents you might need in case you have to go to a hospital after an accident.
Besides these steps, it’s a good idea to take along a fully-equipped first aid kit for any minor injuries, cuts, or insect bites. Have a good selection of ointments and medications for different risk factors. Your kit should also have painkillers, antiseptic, wound-cleaning gauze, sterile dressings, bandage tape, plasters, tweezers, and scissors.
3. Don’t make yourself a target for theft.
It’s an unfortunate fact of life that thieves often target people who look like travelers. So, don’t take anything that you can’t bear to lose with you. Besides pickpockets, scammers, and dishonest cab drivers, there are many other people who would love to help themselves to the luggage in your car when you are on a nature hike or to the stuff in your hotel rooms when you go out for a meal. The best defense, in terms of theft prevention, is to not look like you’re a traveler. This includes not talking to friendly strangers and telling them where you’re from, dressing in Hawaiian shirts, overfilling the back seat with your travel gear, and so on. Act as if you know where you’re going and avoid people who appeal to your emotions to persuade you to part with your money.
Although it’s hard to put your finger on why it’s fun to travel, there is something about it that fascinates us. Regardless of the reason, if it makes you feel surprisingly happy, you should do it at least once a year. Be sure to include road trips in your travel plans. They may not be quick and convenient like booking a plane ticket but they are good for the soul. When you do travel by road, take these three recommended simple precautions to stay safe.