Over the weekend I drove about 20 hours and 800 some odd miles to attend a family function in New Hampshire. Certain things I have learned about travelling long distances in your car, as well as some basic preparations for the upcoming colder season (for those of you who live in areas where you experience winter weather). So as the season approaches, get your car winterized at your local place of repairs, then remember these dirty dozen tips:
1. Get Triple AAA!! It’s not that expensive, and one single use certainly more than pays the annual dues. On Sunday after about 15 minutes into the home trek, my engine light battery came on and my car came to a slow halt. What?!?!?! Thankfully, I was able to get it started again and at the next exit found a major gas station with convenience store and bathroom. Hallelujah! Triple AAA was there within the hour to help. PRICELESS!
2. Always have your cell phone with you, and make sure you have a car charger just in case your cell phone battery is low. The LAST thing you want to do is have a dead phone if you’re stuck.
3. Like Mom always said, GO POTTY BEFORE YOU LEAVE… ANYWHERE! Really, do you want to be stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic for hours needing to go? It ain't pretty!
4. Carry water and snacks in your car. Keep granola bars, a jar of peanut butter, things like that in your car. If you are tempted to snack often in the car, keep them in the trunk. But have them on hand.
5. Pack an extra outfit, as well as a pair of old jeans, sweater/sweatshirt and sneakers, to keep in the car. You never know…and keep a warm blanket in the car as well – doubles for a spontaneous picnic mat!
6. Keep a fully-stocked first aid kit in your car at all times!
7. Keep some cash stashed in the car – an extra $20 is always useful.
8. Never let your gas tank go below the halfway mark! Not only is it a way to keep from running out of gas, but did you ever notice that gas burners faster the second half of the tank full? Yep! So you’ll be more energy efficient and save a little extra cash as well.
9. Get a car battery charger and keep it in your car. You can’t always depend on someone else to come along and give your car a jump start.
10. Also helpful is to keep a bag of cat litter in the car and an old welcome mat -- if you're on the ice the cat litter can be scattered to give you traction and the old mat can be wedged under the tire for traction as well. Plus, the extra weight of the cat litter in the back of the car is helpful.
11. Get a good GPS. I LOVE my iPhone app WAZE which got me through being lost this weekend in the dark, in the woods, on a mud road, in pouring rain and fog in the middle of who-knows-where boonies where I could swear I heard the strains of a banjo playing the theme song to Deliverance!!! I was just waiting for Bigfoot to hitch a ride - VERY SCARY!! But always plan your trip ahead of time and have printed directions and local maps in addition to your phone app or GPS.
12. Finally, learn to maintain your own car as much as you can and keep oil, jumper cables, flares, gloves, flashlight and extra batteries, and a FULL READY spare tire – and know how to change it! Wild women should always know how to take care of their own car – don’t depend on anyone else to “save you” – SAVE YOURSELF! Even if you have a loving, reliable significant other you don' t always know if they'll answer the phone, etc.
On Amazon you can find a kit to keep in your car as well -- very helpful: CLICK HERE! In addition, be sure to tell at least one friend or contact where you are going, and when you are expecting to return. Have an emergency contact just in case...
Now… exercise your take-care-of-my-wheels safety muscles and enjoy the ride! And please share any experiences, comments or additional tips here with your comments!