Planning a Road Trip – 8 Safety Tips

Rupert Harmon

When planning to go on a road trip, it is important not only to have all the necessary items you need to travel, but also have your car ready for an emergency situation. While you can’t always prevent every situation that may arise, there are some basic things you can do to have a safe and rewarding trip. These include:

  • Getting your car in tip top shape
  • Carrying a first aid kit
  • Having plenty of quarters on hand
  • Having a spare tire available
  • Carrying updated insurance and registration on your vehicle
  • Bringing food and water
  • Motion sickness medicine
  • Toiletries

Getting your car in tip top shape

A road trip, especially a long one, most importantly requires that your mode of transportation is safe and reliable. Though simple, and maybe costly at the start, the following tips can help save you both time and money while traveling:

  1. First, make sure you get an oil change. Just like seeing the dentist twice a year and oil change is a great preventive measure for potential damage to your car from old and possibly leaky oil. Make sure the oil is compatible with the make and model of your car. Also, it’s helpful to have tires rotated, and all fluids topped off. Good wiper blades such as all-weather blades or winter-weather blades are a necessity for keeping your line of sight unobstructed. In addition, you may be able to buy necessary replacement fluids such as oil, coolant and window washing fluid while getting your oil changed.
  2. Second, prepare your car for the long haul. It is good to know the gas mileage your vehicle will get on the highway. You can even test this on a full tank when you begin your trip. See how far you can travel until you reach a quarter- tank, record that number, then go and fill up. You can then continue your journey, doing your best to make it to the next major city or two, depending on where you’re traveling. This may prove to be an advantage, since bigger towns or cities typically have more competition between gas stations, and you can find cheaper gas. Small towns that may only have 1 or 2 gas stations.
  3. Third, evaluate your car’s performance on different terrains. I have personally experienced the frustration of spending hours letting a car rest before it will drive smoothly again because the fuel grade needed for the trip was not as high as it needed to be. At high altitudes, your automobile may need an upgrade to premium gas if usually at regular or supreme if usually at premium. A higher octane rating will make your gas mileage stretch and your car’s performance more efficient.

First aid kit

A first aid kit can be an invaluable resource for everyone traveling. The good thing is that first aid kits come in different shapes, sizes, and varieties. It may be useful to have a complete kit for the car itself; however, pocket-sized ones are also sold.


Quarters are great for two reasons: a) toll booths, and b) pay phones. Some highways you travel, especially loops around a city, may charge you a toll of a varied amount. Quarters can help in giving exact change, as most tolls charge in multiples of 25 cents.

In the unlikely event you happen to get stranded and don’t have any cell phone reception, you may have to use a pay phone. Pay phones charge by the minute, so extra quarters can really help. A budget of $30 or more in quarters for both pay phone and toll will keep you on the safe side.

Spare tire

This is one of the more common sense necessities that every vehicle should have. Besides having the spare tire with you on your road trip, it is also helpful to know how to change a flat tire for a spare one. This could save you the expense of a tow truck, especially if that was the reason for your breakdown.

Updated car registration and insurance

Needless to say, having the most up-to-date registration and insurance paperwork on your car can be a lifesaver. It can save you anywhere from getting points on your driving record, to ensuring you have the needed coverage should your auto get into an accident of any kind.

Food and water

For the safety of everyone traveling, food and water is a must. Traveling as a child, my family would always carry a big pack of water bottles. We would also have a variety of snacks that included sweet, salty, high protein such as nuts or trail mix, and fruit. The variety made traveling more fun as well.

Motion sickness medicine

Having motion sickness medicine for those travelers who are more prone to getting sick is more of a convenience than a safety issue; however, it is one to be grateful for. Now that I am the sole driver on road trips across the country, I don’t get sick. There were many times in my past that I could have taken advantage of anti-motion sickness medicine such as Dramamine. If you don’t have any yet, it is definitely a worthy investment.


Basic toiletries such as shampoo and conditioner, soap, a hairbrush, toothbrush and toothpaste, deodorant, wet wipes and hand sanitizer can help keep your hygiene intact, no matter where you are. If anything, freshening up can make your trip more enjoyable for everyone involved, and help you be more alert.

Hopefully you never encounter an emergency situation where you have to use a first aid kit or quarters for a pay phone. However, carrying toiletries, motion sickness medicine, food and water, car registration and insurance, a spare tire, quarters, a first aid kit, and making sure your car is ready to travel can help ensure you make this road trip the trip of a lifetime. Enjoy the ride!

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