Road Trip Guide - Page 32 - 7 safety tips for a road trip continued

Road Trip Guide
- Page 32
7 safety tips for a road trip continued
you cool on hot days. For side windows, try pull-down screens. Using screens is also a good precaution to take if you’re leaving your car and have any valuables that can’t be stowed in the trunk.

4. Don’t lose power
Get a car charger, make sure it works with your phone and cigarette lighter or USB charge port and stash it in the glove box when you’re not using it. You don’t want to see a low-battery signal when you’ve taken a wrong turn at Nowheresville, gotten a flat tire or are being stalked by angry raccoons. The charger should live in your car.

5. Know thy car
You don’t have to be a professional mechanic, but knowing how to patch things up until you can get to one is important. If you’re taking your own car, you probably already know most of its quirks — the passenger- side window only rolls down halfway; it’s a snob that chokes on literally anything other than premium gas. But you’ll also want to know how to change or temporarily fix a flat tire, and where and how to refill the oil, coolant or transmission fluid.

Even more important, take good care of your four-wheeled bestie so you don’t find yourself stranded 100 miles from a mechanic because of a perfectly avoidable situation. A pretrip tune-up isn’t a bad idea. (If you’re driving a rental, take a moment to learn where everything is before you put your foot on the gas.)

6. When in doubt, pack it
Movies make it look easy and romantic to jump in your car and go, but bring along a well-stocked roadside kit with jumper cables, a flashlight and extra batteries and a gas can. You’ll also want basic tools such as a tire iron, car jack, screwdriver, pliers, adjustable wrench and a pocket knife. Extra bottles of coolant, oil and transmission fluid are also a good idea. Less obvious additions: kitty litter (you can put it under the tires if you get stuck in snow) and duct tape.

Be sure to bring a first-aid kit and other personal safety items, such as a Mylar blanket, extra layers (for cold weather), and nonperishable snacks and water. When in doubt, pack it, especially if you will be in remote areas, headed to cold-weather winter destinations and/or you’re going it alone.

7. Avoid distractions
Never fiddle with your smartphone while driving. Put it in a secure car mount and use Google Maps to help you reach your location. If you’re old school, pull over to check a map or ask for directions. If you’re traveling with a friend, he or she can adjust the radio, grab you some chips or look something up for you.