Cross country road trips are exciting opportunities to explore new places, connect with friends and loved ones, and make lasting memories.
As we enter the holiday season, more and more people will be hitting the road — either heading home to see their families or embarking on a holiday vacation.
If you have a long road ahead of you, this cross country road trip safety checklist will ensure you’re ready for anything along the way and help you avoid unnecessary risks.
Below, you’ll find seven essential safety tips for driving cross country that will keep you and your travel companions out of harm’s way and focused on what matters most: enjoying the ride!
Prepare Your Vehicle for the Trip
There’s nothing worse than setting out only to run into vehicle trouble an hour or two into your trip. Or worse, several hours or even days in, when you’re no longer familiar with your surroundings.
That’s why our first safety tip for driving cross country is to ensure your car or road trip vehicle is ready to go.
That means taking it in for any necessary maintenance (i.e., oil change, transmission fluid, brake fluid, new battery, etc.), putting air in your tires, filling up your gas tank, and refilling your windshield washer fluid.
Budget for Gas, Food, & Lodging
One of the most crucial safety tips for driving cross country is planning your budget ahead of time.
Based on the length of your trip and your vehicle’s mileage, you can estimate how many times you’ll need to fill your tank, stop for food, and stay the night somewhere.
Putting aside enough cash (and a little extra, if possible) to cover these expenses will give you the cushion to comfortably make it through your trip without running out of funds.
Build an Emergency Kit
Unexpected emergencies can happen at any time…
And depending on the situation, you may be stranded in your car for an extended amount of time. Having an emergency kit in the back of your vehicle will ensure you have everything you need to hunker down and stay safe until help arrives.
Here’s a list of what to pack in your emergency kit:
- Bottled water
- Non-perishable food and snacks
- A first-aid kit
- A portable cell phone charger or two
- A flashlight or two with backup batteries
- Jumper cables
- A tow rope
- Extra medication for relevant medical conditions
- For extremely cold weather:
- Plenty of warm clothes — gloves, beanies, hats, coats, jackets, socks, etc.
- A windshield ice scraper
- A snow shovel
- A bag of sand — for traction if you get stuck in the snow
Make Time for Plenty of Sleep
Especially if you’re driving alone, you’ll need a good night’s sleep to stay alert and avoid falling asleep at the wheel.
When planning your trip, schedule plenty of time to rest every night, and don’t hesitate to pull over or switch with a travel buddy if you notice yourself getting tired or nodding off. An extra few miles of progress isn’t worth your life.
Watch What You Eat
Big, high-calorie meals and overly sugary or salty snacks may be satisfying, but they can also make you sleepy.
If you’re prone to post-meal slumps, protect your energy levels and eat foods and snacks that won’t weigh you down when you’re trying to focus on the road.
Obey Regional Traffic Laws
No list of safety tips for driving cross country would be complete without addressing traffic laws. Whenever you cross state lines, be aware that certain things that were legal in the previous state may be illegal in the current one.
Laws concerning speed limits, phone use, and certain traffic maneuvers may change from state to state. So, study up on the regions you’ll be driving through to avoid unnecessary violations and traffic tickets.
Stay Hands-Free With Your Phone
Whether it’s legal to be on your phone or not, your focus should always be on the road when driving.
Many cars nowadays allow you to navigate your phone using the center console (either with buttons or a touchscreen), which is a great way to avoid unnecessary phone use.
If your road trip vehicle doesn’t have this feature, invest in a phone mount so you can stay hands-free and aware of your surroundings.
Travel With 24/7 Protection — Anywhere in the US
The final item on our list of safety tips for driving cross country is about ensuring you get the fastest possible response in an emergency.
In a crisis, many people’s first instinct is to call 911. But if you’re stranded on the side of the road in an unfamiliar area, describing your location to a dispatcher may be difficult or impossible — especially if it’s dark out.
Not only that, but you’ll have to spend valuable time explaining your situation, answering question after question as precious seconds pass by. And even if you have a rough guess as to where you are, their technology isn’t accurate enough to determine your exact location.
That’s why the Rescu app is the perfect cross country travel companion.
With just two taps on your smartphone or Apple Watch, Rescu can dispatch fire, ambulance, or police services to your exact location anywhere in the US — no talking required.
When you send an alert, the app immediately notifies your listed emergency contacts and sends your pre-registered medical info to your first response team, so they can provide fast, accurate care.
And if you want to provide your dispatcher with additional information, you can easily text or talk with them in the app after you’ve sent an alert.
When you travel with Rescu, you have the fastest way to get help in an emergency in your passenger seat at all times — available twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.
Download the Rescu app today to travel with round-the-clock protection this holiday season.