Travel tips

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Plan your journey

You don’t have to have a minute-by-minute agenda for your road trip, but a little planning will ensure that you hit all the high points of your day and have somewhere to stay at night. Whether you’re trying to get from Point A to Point B as quickly as possible or are taking the scenic route, having a loose plan that takes into account meals, lodging, attractions and the amount of time you want to be on the road each day will give you and your passengers an idea of what to expect each day. When something unexpected comes up (a flat tire or the world’s biggest ball of string) you will be in a better position to make adjustments if you have an overall plan.

GPS is a wonderful planning tool and a great resource for estimating travel times based on real-time traffic conditions and road construction. But GPS is not infallible; it’s a great idea to have an old-fashioned paper map as a back-up. This is especially important when traveling in remote areas where GPS information may not be up-to-date.

You’re planning on having fun on your trip: so have some fun making your plan.

When things go wrong

Even the best-planned road trip can take an unexpected, and unpleasant, turn. When things go bad, your preparation and planning can save the day. Besides the obvious first aid kit and emergency supplies for a serious problem, there are some simple things you may not have thought of that will smooth the inconveniences you might encounter on your trip.

Nearly every motorist has a cell phone – in fact you will likely have several in the car on a family trip. But what do you do when you are somewhere without cell service, your battery is dead or your phone is lost or broken? A pre-paid phone card can save the day. You can make a call from a pay phone without a pocketful of quarters or use a business or residential phone offered by a good Samaritan without worrying either of you about how you are going to pay for it.

Another tip is to have your documents in order. Your license, registration and insurance card should be readily accessible should you be pulled over or have an accident. By the way, things will go much better for you if you don’t have outstanding complications on your driving record when an officer calls in your information. Make sure you take care of those parking tickets and moving violations before you hit the road.

Last, purchase a roadside assistance plan. You can rest assured that the cavalry is on the way and shift some of the burden of your problem to someone whose job is to help.