Summer is drawing to a close. As school supplies go on sale, days grow shorter, and evenings become cooler, taking advantage of these final summer days as a family is a wonderful idea. With gas prices at a decade low, consider taking a road trip.
A weekend trip with the family to the Quartz or Wichita Mountain Ranges, or taking in the breathtaking scenery on Chocktaw Country’s Talimena Scenic Drive are a perfect way to spend a long, Labor Day weekend. Close enough the big cities of Tulsa and Oklahoma City that you won’t be spending too much time in the car, but exciting enough to still feel like an adventure.
When you are considering a family road trip over Labor Day, it is important to remember to be SMART. Following these five tips will help keep your trip enjoyable, without any unforeseen events putting a damper on the holiday festivities.
- Follow the five “S”s of the road. It’s simple: obey the speed limit, use your turn signals to indicate lane changes, wear your seatbelt (and ensure all passengers do, too), stay sober, and make sure you have gotten enough sleep. Following these simple tips are a great way to avoid a car accident.
- Ensure your car is up to date on all maintenance. Keeping up with periodic maintenance such as oil changes and air filters is important, as well as keeping up on any recalls. You can input your vehicle identification number (VIN) into a website like this one to see if you are behind on any needed repairs. It is also recommended to check air pressure and tread on tires, battery, all fluids (coolant, oil, etc.), and, in the heat of summer, air conditioner by a mechanic prior to your trip.
- Make sure you keep alert and pay attention. As the driver, your one responsibility is to pay attention to the road and traffic conditions. Keep your eyes on the road, not the occupants of the car or the screen of your smart phone. It is important that you watch the vehicles around you; paying attention to the movie on in the back seat, the twitter feed on your phone, or the stations on the radio are all easy recipes for a car accident.
- Be ready for anything and be realistic. We all hope that nothing will go wrong on our family vacation, but it is important to be ready and realistic. Keep a first aid kit in your car including things like bandages, pain relievers, and antiseptic to clean a wound. You should also make sure you bring along other potentially needed things: cell phone and charger, flashlights, jumper cables, bottle water, some non-perishable snacks, and tools to jump a battery or change a tire. While it is hoped that you will never have the car accident or other mishap making you need them, it is important to be realistic and recognize that if something does go wrong, it is best to be prepared.
- Time. It is important to recognize that things do not always go according to plan; there will be unscheduled bathroom breaks needed, traffic jams may occur, you might take a wrong turn. Plan for enough time to not only get where you are going safely, but also to enjoy they journey as much as the destination. If you rush, you increase your odds of a car accident—a surefire way to ruin your family time. This is an exciting, enjoyable time for you to spend quality time with your family. Savor the journey.
A family road trip is a perfect way to enjoy the closing days of summer with your family. When you are traveling, make sure you travel smart. Give yourself plenty of time to get where you are going to avoid a car accident, but should one occur, you’ll be glad you came prepared.