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Things to Know Before Taking Road Trips

Ready to go on your road trip?  Here are some tips that will help you make the road ahead safer, more pleasant, and hopefully more memorable, for you and your family.

Be prepared.  A few days before your trip, check on the condition of your car, things you need for the trip, and also create your itinerary.  Make sure your car is in good working order. 

Check your tire pressure. How do you know if your tire has the right pressure?  The automaker's recommended tire pressure printed on a placard usually appears in a vehicle on a doorjamb, inside the fuel-filler door, or on the inside of the glove box lid. Its always best to check out your tire pressure when tires are cool. Make sure that the vehicle has been off and in a cool place for several hours to ensure the most accurate reading. 

Check your air filter. Doing this simple check will save you up to $0.23 per gallon.  This is because a dirty air filter reduces your gas mileage by 10 percent. Your car's air filter keeps impurities from damaging the inside of your engine. So not only will replacing a dirty air filter save gas, it will protect your engine.

Check your tires. You can improve your gas mileage by around 3.3 percent by keeping your tires inflated to the proper pressure. Under-inflated tires can lower gas mileage by 0.4 percent for every 1 PSI (pounds per square inch) drop in pressure. Here's the added bonus, properly inflated tires are safer and last longer.

Spring for a tune-up. There's no better time for tune-up that before you go on a long road trip. Make sure that the tune-up includes all the items we're noting here.

Make sure your car is child-safe, if you’re taking children. Check the car seats and booster seats to make sure they properly installed and working correctly. Child safety locks should be activated on windows.  Remove all things that pose a potential danger such as any poisonous substances, choking hazards like small objects in between seats, and things that might hit you or your passengers when you make a sudden stop.

Pack everything ahead of time, so you won’t be stressing out trying to find things just before leaving. Don’t forget to pack an emergency kit which includes water warm blankets, flashlight jumper cables, flares, a jack and also a lug-nut remover to change a flat tire, a fully charged cell phone, a battery car charger, and a first-aid kit.

Avoid carrying items that won't be needed. Each extra 100 pounds in your vehicle reduces fuel economy by one or two percent.

Plan your route and stops. With a little planning, you can avoid retracing your route and reduce the distance you travel as well. Investigate on line which gas stations along your way have cheaper gas prices. 

Drive efficiently.  It makes you and your loved ones safer as well as saves you money. The U.S. Dept of Energy suggests the following:

Drive Sensibly.  Aggressive driving (speeding, rapid acceleration and braking) wastes gas. It can lower your gas mileage by 33 percent at highway speeds and by 5 percent around town. Sensible driving is not only safer for you and others, but saves you more than gas money of $0.12-$0.76/gallon.

Observe the speed limit. Each 5 mph you drive over 60 mph is like paying an added $0.20 per gallon for gas.

Use cruise control on the highway to help you maintain a constant speed and, in most cases, will save gas.

Use overdrive gearing. This makes your car's engine speed go down. This saves gas and reduces engine wear.

Pull into rest stops.  Using rest stops wisely can vastly increase alertness, reduce stress, and make everyone's trip safer -- as well as a little more enjoyable. While stopped, walk and stretch to loosen up your body. Enjoy the scenery that is often available...if you look just beyond the restrooms.

By following these tips you'll be saving money on your gas purchases, which will give you more money to spend on your family! And most importantly, you will be doing all that you can to drive safely in a vehicle that is as safe as possible.


Whether you’re going to a romantic honeymoon get-away, an exotic exploration, or a business trip abroad, here are some quick tips from the US Department of State to make your travel easier and safer:  

Register so the State Department can better assist you in an emergency:  Register your travel plans with the State Department through a free online service at  This will help us contact you if there is a family emergency in the U.S., or if there is a crisis where you are traveling.  In accordance with the Privacy Act, information on your welfare and whereabouts will not be released to others without your express authorization.

Sign passport, and fill in the emergency information:  Make sure you have a signed, valid passport, and a visa, if required, and fill in the emergency information page of your passport.

Leave copies of itinerary and passport data page:  Leave copies of your itinerary, passport data page and visas with family or friends, so you can be contacted in case of an emergency.

Check your overseas medical insurance coverage:  Ask your medical insurance company if your policy applies overseas, and if it covers emergency expenses such as medical evacuation.  If it does not, consider supplemental insurance.

Familiarize yourself with local conditions and laws:   While in a foreign country, you are subject to its laws.  The State Department web site at has useful safety and other information about the countries you will visit. 

Take precautions to avoid being a target of crime:  To avoid being a target of crime, do not wear conspicuous clothing or jewelry and do not carry excessive amounts of money.  Also, do not leave unattended luggage in public areas and do not accept packages from strangers.

Contact us in an emergency: Consular personnel at U.S. Embassies and Consulates abroad and in the U.S. are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to provide emergency assistance to U.S. citizens.  Contact information for U.S. Embassies and Consulates appears on the Bureau of Consular Affairs website at  Also note that the Office of Overseas Citizen Services in the State Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs may be reached for assistance with emergencies at 1-888-407-4747, if calling from the U.S. or Canada, or 202-501-4444, if calling from overseas. 

For detailed information about steps you can take to ensure a safe trip, see How to Have a Safe Trip. 


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