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A road trip can be a great family adventure

Going on a long road trip is an exciting experience for both young and old – you get to experience beautiful scenery, walk around in new places and get to know the customs and traditions of each destination you visit.

To avoid any disappointment and enjoy the best trip possible, planning for the journey must begin long before you get in the car. So if you’re planning to take a road trip, consider the following ideas.

Travel budget

A budget will help you manage your expenses properly and can include:

  • Car maintenance. A qualified mechanic can check the condition of your brakes and tires. The mechanic can also tell you if you need any additional maintenance or parts replaced, and if the car is in its best condition for the trip.
  • Fuel expenses. Gas prices tend to vary by location. Find out the actual price of gas and calculate how much you’ll spend during the trip. It’s a good idea to estimate a bit on the higher side in case there are any emergencies.
  • Lodging, food and entertainment. Figure out your food and hotel expenses depending on how many people will be joining you on the trip. Remember to budget for family activities like visiting a museum, a park or a fair.

Routes and safe driving

Before and during your trip it’s important to:

  • Choose your destination. Each state has tourist attractions that are open to the public. America’s Byways has a search engine that helps you find things to do depending on where you are.
  • Drive with caution. Drive carefully when traveling on the road, this way you’ll avoid getting a ticket and you’ll be sure that the people on your trip are safe. Always make sure that your passengers have their seatbelts fastened.
  • Make frequent stops. The car ride itself may be fun, but remember to make frequent stops to stretch your legs, use the restroom, have a meal or just enjoy the scenery.

Child passengers

On long trips, children have special needs. Remember to:

  • Provide safety seats. There are many car seats and boosters specifically for children that can be placed in the back seat of your car. Find the appropriate seat for your child’s age or size and make sure it’s properly installed. Use the Car Seat Inspection Station Locator to find the nearest place where a technician can verify the seat is installed correctly and according to the law.
  • Bring snacks. Pack a cooler with healthy snacks that are portioned appropriately for your child’s age. These snacks help ensure that children are getting enough to eat and drink on the trip.
  • Immunize your children. All children under age six should receive their necessary vaccines (PDF) to avoid picking up illnesses or diseases that could be transmitted through direct contact, or by food and water. Also remember to pack cold, allergy, headache and stomach medications.

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Think the car you purchased may be a “lemon”? Know your rights as an owner and lemon laws that may help you. 

Four Ways to Improve Your Gas Mileage

Find out how to improve your gas mileage. Here’s an overview of the tips:

1. Drive More Efficiently

  • Avoid speeding, rapid acceleration, and unnecessary braking
  • Observe the speed limit
  • Avoid idling
  • Remove unnecessary items that add weight to your vehicle
  • Use cruise control on the highway
  • Use overdrive gears when appropriate

2. Keep Your Car in Shape

  • Get regular tune-ups
  • Keep tires properly inflated
  • Use the motor oil recommended for your vehicle
  • Replace a clogged air filter

3. Plan and Combine Trips

  • Combine errands into one trip
  • Consider commuting alternatives (carpooling, public transit, etc.)

4. Choose a More Efficient Vehicle

Use fueleconomy.gov to find and compare cars.

Buckling up is the most effective way to protect yourself in a crash. Wear your seatbelt. It could save your life.