Summer is in full swing and a predicted 230 million Americans plan to travel this summer. That means nearly 80% of past-year travelers plan on taking at least one trip this summer. If you are heading out to a fun, action-packed vacation spot, there are a few things you need to know before you go.
Safety is important year round but it is even more important when you leave town. Many people think once their vacation starts, they don’t have to worry about trivial things such as safety. But it is imperative you learn these safety tips before heading on your way.
Traveling by Car
Despite high gas prices, motorists will still be hitting the road for summer trips. This has encouraged consumers to become more sensitive to rising gas prices while modifying their summer vacation plans. 75% of all summer travel will be by auto or RV. Simple preparations for your vacation could mean the difference between cruising along the highway, or sitting next to it.
- Plan routes that will help you maintain constant speeds and allow you to bypass congested areas. Avoid two lane roads with a lot of stops.
- Keep an emergency road kit in the trunk with jumper cables, flares, and other necessities (see below for our suggested kit).
- Don’t overload your vehicle with luggage. Determine your car’s carrying capacity, which is usually listed on a sticker attached to the driver’s side door.
- Try and avoid placing luggage on top of your vehicle. Luggage placed outside the vehicle creates wind resistance, which results in poor gas mileage.
- Make sure you know what your auto insurance covers and doesn’t cover while on vacation.
- Have your vehicles inspected before hitting the road. Several items like fluid levels, coolant, windshield washer fluid, and tire pressure can be inspected on your own, but you should have a technician take the time to check your brakes, suspension, and undercarriage.
- Ensure that your children are safe. Make sure car seats and booster seats for your children are properly installed. All children 13 and younger should ride in the back seat and all passengers in your vehicle should be buckled up!
Many of these tips not only will keep you off the side of the road; they’ll save you money at the pumps. A car that is properly tuned and not overloaded with luggage is likely to get better gas mileage. So not only will you get to your destination on time, you may even find a little more money in your pocket when you get there.
Before you leave for your summer vacation, make sure your home and belongings are protected while you are gone. Safeguard against crime and other issues by taking the following precautions:
- Stop your mail and newspaper delivery. Criminals will be more alerted to your home if your mailbox is overflowing while you’re away. If you don’t have someone who will bring in your mail while you’re away, contact the post office to temporarily suspend delivery.
- Keep quiet. You don’t need to broadcast to everyone (especially on sites like Facebook or Twitter) that you are going to be away. You never know who is going to be reading or listening. Instead, tell a few trusted neighbors so that they can keep an eye on your house.
- Fake them out. Set up an electrical timer to turn lights and TVs on at various time to fool potential intruders into thinking you are at home. Set the timer to reflect your normal routine.
- Consider shutting off gas and water. If you are going to be gone an extended period of time, consider shutting off your utilities to avoid potential flooding, fire or gas leaks.
While traveling, research your destination so you are not a target for thieves and pickpockets and know a bit about the area before you go.
- Leave your jewelry and other expensive belongings locked up at home.
- If you are in crowded, unfamiliar areas, keep your money in a money belt rather than in your purse.
- Be sure not to work alone, especially after hours. Create a buddy system for walking to parking lots or public transportation.
- Carry traveler’s checks or an insured prepaid Visa card instead of cash, and record information of any valuables you take on your vacation (such as a camera or iPod). Take a copy of the information with you, and leave one with a family member or trusted adult.
- Learn about your vacation destination before you arrive; know what sites you want to visit and how to get there using a safe, well-traveled route.
- Be sure to lock your room at your lodging place, and insist that everyone carry his or her key when outside the room. Remember not to give out your room number or invite strangers into your room.
- Keep your purse, wallet, keys, or other valuables with you at all times or locked in a hotel safe. Mark other personal items with your name or initials.
- Know the exit routes and evacuation plans for your hotel or lodging area.
- Bring along an updated photo of each child — in case you become separated from them.
- Talk with your family about who to call and what to do in case they get lost or another emergency arises while you are on vacation.
- Teach your children to swim at home before you leave on vacation.
- Young children should always have swim vests — not floaties.
- Always have an adult in the water with your children, not sitting on the deck or sand.
- Remember to stay just an arm’s length away. It takes just a few seconds for a child to begin to drown.
Traveling with Fido
We think trips are always more fun when you bring your furry friends along. If you’re planning to take a vacation this summer with your pets in tow, we’ve got you covered.
- It’s a good idea to practice having your pet ride along for a series of short car trips leading up to your big trip.
- Keep your pets safe and secure in the car by having them ride in a well-ventilated crate or carrier. The crate should be large enough for your pet to stand, sit, lie down and turn around in. Make sure to secure your pet’s crate so it will not slide or shift in the event of an abrupt stop.
- Be sure to pack plenty of water, and avoid feeding your pet while the vehicle is moving. Your pet’s travel-feeding schedule should start with a light meal three to four hours prior to departure.
- Be sure your pet is wearing an ID tag at all times.
Remember, if you are headed to the beach or another sunny locale this summer, sun protection is essential. Read about summer skin safety for the whole family >>
Because things can go wrong no matter how well you prepare, it is always good to keep an emergency kit in your car. Even a well-maintained vehicle can break down. Put together an emergency roadside kit to carry with you. Here is our suggested emergency roadside kit contents:
- Cell phone
- First aid kit
- Flares and a white flag
- Jumper cables
- Jack (and ground mat) for changing a tire
- Work gloves and a change of clothes
- Basic repair tools and some duct tape (for temporarily repairing a hose leak!)
- A jug of water and paper towels for cleaning up
- Nonperishable food, drinking water, and medicines
- Extra windshield washer fluid