Useful Car Tips

Long-Distance Road Trips for Beginners

April 05, 2019
A long-distance road trip can be an arduous journey for even the most experienced driver. Before departing, proper planning must be done to ensure a safe and enjoyable trip. Many factors will have to be considered, among them: estimated time of departure and arrival (with the latter also being known as ETA), an optimal route that minimizes traffic, in-car entertainment for children, proper accommodations for animals (if you’re taking them), periodic breaks to eat and use a restroom, and many, many more. It’s a lot to take in and consider for any driver, but particularly so for young or inexperienced drivers who may be going on their first long-distance road trip behind the wheel. If that sounds like you, or if you just want to brush up on the skills you need to take upon such a journey, read on. Careful planning now will lead to a smoother, better experience for you when you’re out on the road, beginning your trip. First, let’s take a look at the sole factor which will make such a trip possible: your car.


A long-distance road trip can be demanding for a vehicle, especially one which is very old or running in poor condition. You’ll be relying on your car to drive at least 200 miles (about 320 kilometers) for three hours or more. If you’re eschewing air travel in favor of travel by car, chances are, you’ll be traveling even further and longer than that, perhaps up to 1,000 miles (about 1,600 kilometers) or even more. For reference, that’s like driving from New York City to Disneyworld in Orlando, Florida! Regardless of the length of your long-distance trip, the bottom line is that you’ll need a car you can depend on. Be honest when evaluating your current vehicle. Is it reliable? Is maintenance going to be expensive if something breaks? Does it burn excess oil or have any tire issues? In short, will you be able to rely on your car to drive you and your family to your destination (and back) safe and hassle-free? If the answer is no, or if you’re unsure, you should consider taking your vehicle to a trusted local mechanic or dealership for an evaluation. If you’re still unsure and are already in the market for another vehicle, research the car that works best for you given its fuel efficiency rating, seating capacity, convenience features, and other factors which may be relevant to your trip. Car shopping websites like Autotrader Carfax, and CarGurus can help you in your search.


The more you plan now, the more prepared you’ll be the day of your trip, and there is a whole lot to plan for a long-distance trip! After choosing a travel destination, choose a date and time for both arrival and departure. Consider important factors such as the route you’ll take, traffic you may run into, and available restaurants or rest stops along the way. Don’t forget to look up gas stations along the way too, and use an online resource such as GasBuddy to find the most affordable gas stations on your route. Know the size of your car’s gas tank and consider estimating when you may need to fill up. Check the weather forecast both at your destination and for the route that you’ll be traveling along. Adverse weather conditions such as strong rainstorms can slow you down and cause you to arrive later than what your ETA initially suggested. Extreme weather conditions like blizzards or hail can cause traffic to slow to a crawl, or worse, can even force you to pull over and stop driving. If possible, have a backup driver who can take over if you don’t feel comfortable driving. There’s no shame in doing so if you don’t feel confident driving in such conditions—it’s better to play it safe than risk injury.


Long road trips can be monotonous and boring. You can fight off the boredom by playing your favorite music or making road trip playlists just for the road. Podcasts and web series can also provide entertainment and be good ways to pass the time. Excess boredom can tire you out, and tired driving is dangerous. If you’re feeling a little too tired to drive, don’t hesitate to pull over. Just like with adverse weather, it’s better to pull over and play it safe rather than risk lapses in concentration, or even worse—falling asleep at the wheel. In-car entertainment is just as important if you’re traveling with kids, especially young children. Keeping your kids occupied with toys, games, movies, or even coloring books will keep them entertained and can even prevent distracting quarreling. Tailor the entertainment for the appropriate age group and bring extra toys or electronic devices to prevent the inevitable fights for the single tablet or toy. If traveling with a baby, our Fortem baby mirror will give you the ability to check up on them without having to turn around.


Don’t rush your first trip and drive at a pace that’s comfortable for you, especially if you’re young or if it’s your first big trip behind the wheel. Stay awake with coffee or by taking breaks from driving, which you’ll most likely be doing anyway when stopping to eat or use a restroom. Before heading out, double check that you have everything you need to give you peace of mind. Now you’re ready to gorelax, drive safely, and enjoy your long-distance journey!
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