Millions of Americans will be taking a summer vacation this year; 69 percent of those will involve a road trip, according to the American Automobile Association. In addition to being less expensive, the summer road trip gives everyone a chance to share common experiences and bond together.
Even so, even the closest family can start to “melt down” after hours, or days, on the road.
Because everyone deserves a pleasant, educational and stress-free vacation, the University of Kentucky Federal Credit Union offers the following advice for your summer road trip:
Stay Healthy and Comfortable
• Ensure you have easy access to any medications that might be needed – inhalers, insulin, Epi pen, etc. Keep them in their original vials and be sure you have enough to make it through the entire trip!
• Buy – or make your own – first aid kit. Include over-the-counter remedies for allergies, headache, diarrhea, constipation, and gas; adhesive bandages, elastic bandages, antibiotic ointments and pain-relieving spray for sunburn; and other items that suit your family’s needs.
• Bring water and healthy snacks such as raisins, nuts, crackers, fresh fruit, vegetables. Avoid high-calorie, high-fat items and your digestive tract will thank you!
• Pack small pillows, blankets and stuffed animals (for the kids).
• Set a travel timetable everyone can live with. Young children and older adults often require more frequent stops … kids because they get bored, older adults because they get stiff and uncomfortable. Think about stopping every few hours to get out, stretch and see the sights!
• Five to seven hours on the road per day is about the maximum anyone can take, regardless of their age. Drivers become fatigued. Nerves become frayed and even the most angelic child can turn into a demon! Unless you absolutely, positively must be there overnight, take it easy. It’s vacation!
• If you have kids, you know how difficult it can be to keep them entertained. The summer road trip isn’t meant to be spent with your eyes glued to the screen! On the other hand, our devices have become important tools in travel. Try to mix window time with screen time. (Conveniently packing the chargers out of reach can help.)
• Purchase, download or make non-electronic games for the kids to play along the way. The license plate game one of the best. You can also get magnetic checkers and chess sets for older kids. Card games and puzzle books are another option.
• Audio books give everyone in the car the opportunity to learn and share.
• While we’re talking about learning … schedule some educational activities. If you’re traveling to the beach, for example, you might talk about how beaches are formed, how ocean currents work, marine wildlife and so on. A trip out west may include learning about American Indian culture and beliefs, ways of living, tribes and languages. Spelling, math, history and geography bees can get the competitive juices going while engaging the mind!
• Of course, pack movies, music and books.
• Familiarize yourself with the traffic laws of the states you’ll be traveling through. Laws vary regarding speed limits, radar detectors, cell phone use, headlight requirements, U turns, right turns on red and so on. Make sure you know what to expect so you can be the best defensive driver possible.
• If you’re traveling with children in safety or booster seats, make sure the seats are clean and in good repair, that they work properly and are installed correctly. If you’re not used to having kids in the car with you, place an item you’ll need (like a purse) on the back seat near the child. This will help jog your brain to remember the child.
• Bring along a basic car emergency kit – jumper cables, screwdrivers, wrenches, duct tape, fix-a-flat or small air compressor, road flares, flash light and a help sign. Check the spare tire. Those “donut” tires are only good for about 50 miles, so consider a purchasing a full-size spare tire.
• We know it’s old fashioned, but we highly recommend a U.S. road atlas. While not expensive, they can save you hours of time in detours and frustration, show you tourist attractions you might not be aware of, and serve as a backup should your GPS fail.
One of the most important components of the summer road trip is the vehicle. Is yours roadworthy? Talk with your mechanic about your vehicle’s:
• Brakes. They should stop you quickly and be reliable when going up and down hills and mountains
• Transmission. A lot of people don’t realize the transmission requires regular service. Have your mechanic check the transmission fluid. Let the mechanic know about any problems you’ve had with gear changes.
• Tires and Suspension System: Are your tires sound, with good tread and even wear? Do they need balanced or aligned? Are the tires suitable for where you’re going? Are your shocks, springs and struts in good shape? A lot is riding on these systems!
• Cooling System: Have the radiator checked and make sure the air conditioning unit works well enough to keep your family comfortable on the road. Is it time for an oil change? Check the air filter too!
• Electrical: Check your headlights, taillights and license plate light. Is it time to replace the battery? Does the alternator work properly? There’s nothing worse than turning the key only to hear the click-click-click of a dead battery.
If you’re thinking NEW CAR for your summer road trip, you’re not alone. Turn to the UKFCU for great rates on new and used car loans. Recently buy a new car and now you’re thinking maybe you could get a better rate? It’s possible … and refinancing a car loan can have great benefits. Not only does UKFCU have interest rates as low as 2.99 percent*, the Credit Union offers 1 percent cash back (up to $250) when you refinance with them.**
Sound interesting? Call UKFCU at 859.264.4200 or go online at www.ukfcu.org. Get out and enjoy the open road with a little cash in your pocket, and save on your monthly payment!
*Annual Percentage Rate. Rates are subject to credit approval and subject to change. Restrictions may apply. See a representative for details.
**Subject to loan requirements. Existing UKFCU loans not eligible. Minimum loan amount $5,000. 1% of amount financed up to $250 cash back. Restrictions may apply. See a representative for details.