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All signs are pointing to the summer of 2022 being a crazy one for air travel. With an unprecedented surge in demand and labor shortages impacting airports and airlines globally, this summer is going to be a doozy for travel. But: We’re all itching to get up and go, go, go. After over two years of Covid bringing life as we knew it to a startling halt, many people are eager to get back to travel, even though it might look different than it used to.
Because of the many problems airports and airlines are facing, road trips are becoming an increasingly popular way to travel. So, if you’re planning to hit the road this summer, here are some helpful tips to help make your road trip smooth sailing … I mean, driving!
RISING GAS PRICES
The first thing to address is rising gas prices. In some places, gas prices have doubled from what they were and that’s no insignificant cost to consider before hitting the road. While there’s nothing we can do right now about the price at the pump, there are some ways you can save on the cost of fuel.
Download the GasBuddy app
The GasBuddy app is a handy one to have on your phone. It tracks prices at over 150,000 gas stations across the United States and Canada and allows you to check the cost of gas at multiple gas stations. The app can let you know that just by driving a little bit further or hitting up a different station, you could save some serious cash.
Fill your tank up on Mondays and Tuesdays
Speaking of GasBuddy, their lead petroleum analyst Patrick De Haan told KRON TV that in general, gas prices tend to be lowest at the beginning of the week. As the week goes on, gas prices tend to rise until they reach their most expensive point on the weekend – especially on Friday and Saturday.
Research gas prices before leaving home
If you’re planning to drive across state lines, research gas prices at your starting destination vs where you’re going. For example, if you’re starting in California, home to the country’s highest average price (at the time of publication), and heading to Arizona, it makes sense to fill up there as gas prices are much lower.
Use a credit card that will earn you rewards
If you’re buying gas regularly, whether on a road trip or for your daily commute, you may as well pay with a credit card that will earn you rewards. Here’s a list of the best credit cards for earning rewards when buying gas.
Drive the speed limit
According to the U.S. Department of Energy and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) fuel economy website, “While each vehicle reaches its optimal fuel economy at a different speed (or range of speeds), gas mileage usually decreases rapidly at speeds above 50 mph. You can assume that each 5 mph you drive over 50 mph is like paying an additional $0.29 per gallon for gas.” The EPA goes on to say that speeding, braking and rapid acceleration can waste gas, too. By being a more sensible driver, the EPA says you can “lower your gas mileage by roughly 15% to 30% at highway speeds and 10% to 40% in stop-and-go traffic.”
THINGS TO PACK FOR A ROAD TRIP
You can usually stop and pick things up along the way but if you’re driving through any remote areas, you’ll want to make sure you’re stocked with everything you’ll need. Here are some things to make sure you pack for a road trip:
Documents and paperwork
It might go without saying but make sure you have all your documents and paperwork in order, like a valid driver’s license, car insurance, car registration and valid license plate stickers. If you’ve purchased travel insurance for your trip, make sure you know what it covers and can easily access your insurance plan when you need it. For instance, the Allianz TravelSmart app allows users to view their plan details, file a claim within the app, access 24/7 help over the phone, find real-time flight information, find emergency services and hospital locator, locate emergency contact information and view a medication and pharmaceutical dictionary.
Roadside emergency kit
If you are in an accident or your car breaks down on the side of the road, you’ll want to be prepared with:
-a spare tire
-tire pressure gauge
-seatbelt cutter and window breaker
-shovel and ice scraper
-first aid kit
Food and drink
No road trip is complete without yummy snacks but besides stocking up on your favorite eats, don’t forget to include food and drink that you may need in the event of an emergency, like protein bars and lots of water.
You won’t want to hit the road without all your tech gadgets, most importantly your phone and charger. But don’t forget to pack some other essentials, especially a portable charger, the one item flight attendants say they never travel without! Also consider a phone mount for safe, hands-free driving, an Apple AirTag or Samsung SmartTag on your keychain so you don’t lose your car keys (your road trip will come to a halt without your keys!) and a car dash cam.
I don’t travel anywhere without a medical kit, which includes things like an infrared, no-contact thermometer, a pulse oximeter and a blood pressure cuff. These three items allow me to check my vitals, or those of my loved ones, and can give some peace of mind or let us know if we need to see a doctor. I also pack lozenges, Emergen-C vitamin C packs and Covid testing kits.
MORE ROAD TRIP TIPS
Before you hit the road, a few more tips:
Download essential road trip apps
Make sure that all your phone’s apps are updated before you leave home so you’re not struggling to do it when you’re on the road with weak WiFi. I recommend downloading these apps for a road trip:
Maps.me: Download maps ahead of time for offline use.
Waze: Find the fastest route with realtime driving directions based on live traffic updates.
HotelTonight: Instantly book a hotel if you want to be spontaneous and book on the go or use this app if your plans don’t go according to, well, plan.
RoadTripper: This app’s route planner includes instant fuel cost estimation and a function to explore places within a set distance from your route.
And of course, don’t forget to download some great playlists with your favorite tunes.
Get a tune-up
Before hitting the road, make sure your car is up for the drive. Get a tune-up, check your tires and test your lights and brakes. If you’re using a car rental, make sure you’re familiar with all of the car’s features.
Have a plan before hitting the road
Make sure you map out your journey in advance, figure out how many hours a day you’ll drive, and when and where you can make stops for bathroom breaks, food and to stretch your legs.
Make a list of things to do before leaving home
We all know that nagging feeling that you’ve forgotten to do something before leaving home. Instead of having this worry plague you for your entire trip, make a list in advance of all the things you need to do before leaving and check them off as you go. This will give you peace of mind so you can actually enjoy your trip.
Wherever your journey is taking you this summer, drive safely, take care and enjoy the open road!
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Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided by any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.