Avoid These Common Road Trip Mistakes This Summer

With Summer vacation arriving and travel restrictions related to the COVID-19 outbreak starting to lift, many families are getting ready for a traditional summer-time adventure: the road trip. Road trips can be fun, educational, and build life-long memories, but they can also be stressful and even dangerous. Before you pack up your road trip essentials and head for the Grand Canyon, check out these common road trip mistakes that you should definitely try to avoid.

Driving too far for too long

This one seems the most obvious, but after a day or two on the road sometimes we subconsciously start to rush. For whatever reason, whether it be to get it over with sooner, to get to your next exciting stop, or even to just push a little further, we tend to continue driving long after we are fatigued. One day to avoid this is to set up a schedule of rest stops ahead of time, and force yourself not to skip them.

Getting fatigued on a long car ride can be dangerous for numerous reasons. As we get more and more tired, our ability to make snap decisions becomes impaired, and that could mean the difference between getting in an accident or avoiding one.

NORTH HARTLAND, VERMONT, UNITED STATES – 2019/10/10: Scenic drive with autumn color. | John Greim/LightRocket

On less of a safety standpoint, being in the car for too long can be emotionally draining, and the stress of traveling with young kids can increase your chances of becoming agitated or all-around annoyed. To maintain the charm and safety of your trip, the best thing you can do is make frequent stops and rest when you feel tired.

RELATED: Relaxing Road Trips You Can Take Without Leaving Your Home

Packing for the trip, not the destination

If you’re on a cross-country adventure to your new home or just generally making stops as you get to your end location, sometimes we forget how important it is to pack for the trip, not just the destination. There are a lot of toys and accessories you can bring along to make your trip even better.

Some SUVs and trucks have features for tents or sleeping arrangements that can make for an overnight adventure at a national park, and gives you the freedom to stop whenever you want to regardless of hotel arrangements.

SMUGGLERS NOTCH STATE PARK, JEFFERSONVILLE, VERMONT, UNITED STATES – 2019/10/13: Scenic autumn drive through Smugglers Notch State Park | John Greim/LightRocket

Entertaining young kids on the trip is also a must, as being in the back of a car for hours isn’t fun for anyone at any age. You don’t want to just pack electronic devices like tablets that will keep them staring at the screen instead of the scenery, but instead packing state-related coloring sheets or games you can play together is crucial to keeping up the mood and keeping everyone engaged.

RELATED: Best SUVs to Road Trip for Social Distancing

Letting your fuel gauge run low

When you’re road-tripping for a few days, after a while it seems like things are very go-go-go, and for some reasons our brains like to think that the longer we take between rest stops the faster we are going to get there. While this can be true if you’re stopping for something unnecessary, but when it comes to refueling you might want to think twice before stretching your tank out those last few miles.

If you’re running on empty, or really below a quarter of a tank, you run the risk of using all of your gas before you make it to the next station. In usually unfamiliar places, this is a gamble on how much distance there is between you and each gas station. Phone GPS and different apps like Waze are useful in helping you detour for gas, but they aren’t always correct about identifying if a gas station is closed. Better safe than sorry, keeping your car above a quarter of a tank is crucial.

Road trips don’t have to be stressful if we prepare for them properly. Sometimes it takes practice to learn exactly how you like to do your own road trips, but there are some mistakes worth learning from other people.