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How to Disaster-Proof Your Road Trip

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Taking a few precautions before you get behind the wheel can help you avoid a lot of problems on the road.

After decades of hard work, you finally have time to take a road trip and see all those places you have wanted to explore. Older adults often prefer traveling in their own vehicles rather than flying to a destination because they can go at their own pace, be more comfortable than in those ever-shrinking airplane seats, save money, and not have the hassles of airport security.

Ideally, you will have a safe trip, visit friends and relatives, and see lovely scenery. Taking a few precautions before you get behind the wheel can help you avoid a lot of problems on the road. Being on the road, however, has its share of hazards. Here are a few tips on how to disaster-proof your road trip.

Take Care of Your Car, and It Will Take Care of You

Have a reputable mechanic perform a thorough inspection several weeks before your departure to make sure your car is roadworthy. Tell the mechanic the part of the country where you plan to travel and how many miles you expect to drive. It is better to get that oil change a little early than to have to lose time from your vacation and take a chance on an unknown mechanic. Make sure your brakes, tires, wiper blades, fluids, and all other essential items are in safe operating condition.

Avoid Getting Lost in Unfamiliar Territory

Contacting your local AAA office used to be the gold standard for getting guidebooks, maps, and trip planners. Now, you can supplement that information with a GPS device, or go entirely digital and not have to juggle a stack of books and maps in the car.

Some GPS companies have devices designed with seniors in mind. You can be spontaneous on the road when your GPS tells you where the nearest restaurants, hotels, gas stations, and points of interest are and guides you to them. If you run into road construction or traffic jams, your GPS can offer an alternate route.

Resist the Temptation of Distractions While Driving

Many states have laws that ban some behaviors when behind the wheel. For example, one state might allow you to use a cellphone but only in a hands-free mode. The next state might prohibit all cellphone use, even if you sync the device through your car’s onboard infotainment system, like your GPS or stereo. You should check to find out the regulations for each state of your trip.

Regardless of the given state’s rules, you should devote your full attention to the road. Put down the cell phone. Let a passenger operate the entertainment console and take phone calls. Respond to text messages and emails during pit stops.

Protect Your Health

Make sure you take along all the prescription drugs, supplements, over-the-counter remedies, and supplies you will need during your trip. Pack enough for a few extra days, in case you encounter a delay. Ask your doctor if any of your prescription or over-the-counter medications can make you drowsy when driving. Take along a copy of your health care documents and a list of contact persons for the glove compartment. Before a lengthy adventure, get a physical, and have your vision and hearing tested. After all this preparation, you will be able to relax and enjoy your time on the road.


AARP. “5 Ways to Feel More Confident on Your Next Road Trip.” (accessed September 23, 2019)