Road Trip Rules to Know Before Hitting the Highway

INNOVA Road Trip Rules to Know

We give you 6 guidelines to ensure a safe and fun-filled road trip.

Today we’re driving on an open winding road in sunny Southern California. The mountains are to our right, the Pacific Ocean is to our left, the air feels clean and crisp, and to our surprise, the family is smiling and having a blast after a 4-hour bliss!

The reality is that most people who think about planning a long road trip with family or friends see this type of scenario as total fantasy. To most of us, the idea of spending hours and hours in a confined car sounds like torture. We mostly do it for the sake of our families and friends–even at the sacrifice of tolerating the raucous happening in the back seat. But we’re here to say that a long road adventure can be quite fun!

As car afficionados, there is something about the freedom we get by driving on an open highway. It truly lets us escape from the worry and the bustle of daily living. We see it as a therapeutic way to re-energize our physical and mental health–whether we are driving solo or with our loved ones. The reality is that everyone can experience this same thrill by simply following some basic “road rules”.

1. Plan Ahead

The obvious first step is to know your destination. But before making that final decision, gather all your passengers to discuss all aspects of your trip – where you’re headed, where you plan to sleep and eat, what you will want to see and visit, and the timeline to reach each destination. By doing so, you allow all passengers to voice their wishes and desires, while at the same time setting some expectations for the entire journey.

Go retro by using a printed road map, or use applications like Google Map, Apple iOS Maps, or road travel specific apps like Roadtrippers to map out your trip. If you opt for the digital format, it is a good idea to have a printout of your itinerary with basic directions as some areas may not have good cellular reception.

If you are planning to stay the night, you’ll want to book ahead to avoid any non-vacancy surprises. Finally, talk with your friends about who will be paying for what. The last thing you need is to have a fall out because of money. The key here is to be transparent about the entire journey with everyone to avoid misunderstandings and unwanted disagreements. Remember, the goal is to plan a fun-filled ride.

2. Make Sure Your Vehicle is Road Trip Ready

It would be quite disappointing to have a great road trip end by being stranded on the side of the road. Before you venture out, it is important to get a free vehicle inspection at your favorite repair shop or just do it yourself with the following:

  • INNOVA Road Trip Rules - Get Vehicle Ready
    • Check that your tires are well inflated and have good tread depth – visit your local tire retailer to have it done for free.
  • • Check that all your engine fluids are filled – oil, coolant, windshield washer, brake, battery, and transmission.
  • • See if your vehicle is due for an oil change. If it is, have it done.
  • • Have your battery checked at your local auto parts store.
  • • Do you notice strange noises, leaks, or smells? Have someone look at it.
  • • Never ignore a lit dashboard warning light – particularly a check engine light. For peace of mind, you may wish to invest in a device called an OBD2 Code Reader. These devices make it easy for anyone to learn why their check engine, ABS or SRS light turned on. It’s like having an expert car technician in your glovebox to make informed decisions about your vehicle’s health.

3. Know the Local Laws

If you plan on crossing state/country lines, especially if traveling into Mexico or Canada, it is important to research the local laws for each region you cross. What may be legal in one state may be illegal in another. One peculiar fact is that some states see us “foreigners” as trespassers just because we have an out of state license plate. Don’t put yourself in a situation of being pulled over or ticketed for a silly reason. Also, speed limits vary from state to state, and some states love to use speed cameras to catch unsuspecting drivers. So, be careful and watch that lead foot!

4. Be Mindful of Your Passengers

INNOVA Road Trip Rules - Be Mindful of Passengers

All good and lasting relationships begin with respect. This becomes so much more evident when we, as individual beings, are confined in a small space with other people for a long period of time. The simple rule here is to be aware of everyone’s differences and be respectful and sensitive towards their needs and quirks.

Here are a few suggestions to follow...

  • • Stay true to what was promised during the initial planning stage.
  • • Remember kindergarten? This is the perfect time to revive the rules of sharing and caring.
  • • Get everyone to agree on a “neutral” A/C temperature.
  • • Be sensitive to everyone’s dietary needs and preferences – vegan, pescatarian, meat lover, food allergies, etc.
  • • Only sing if others are joining in. And please stay in tune... :)
  • • Don’t hog the radio; let others get a turn.
  • • Be mindful of bathroom requests – make it a rule for everyone to go at every major stop.
  • • Show courtesy to other drivers – this helps your passengers build trust with your driving and keeps everyone safe.

5. Pack Plenty of Snacks and Drinks

INNOVA Road Trip Rules - Pack Snacks and Drinks

There is nothing like having a well-stocked car with great snacks and drinks to keep our passengers occupied and happy. Here is our recommended list of healthy snacks and drinks to bring along for the ride.

  • • Beef Jerky
  • • Popcorn
  • • Hard-Boiled Eggs
  • • Granola or Protein Bars
  • • String Cheese
  • • Carrot & Celery Sticks with Hummus
  • • Grapes
  • • Mixed nuts (only if no one is allergic)
  • • Dried and/or fresh fruits
  • • Pretzels
  • • Dark Chocolate
  • • Apple Sauce Cups
  • • Candy – not healthy, but still essential!

For drinks, leave the sodas for meal stops and get a cooler full of these refreshing drinks.

  • • Water – nothing quenches thirst better
  • • Bubbly Water – for those who find water boring
  • • Fruit Juices – select your favorite flavors
  • • Coffee Drinks – a great pick-me-up and satisfying beverage

6. Refrain from Sleeping in Your Car When Possible

Some may find sleeping in their car a bit odd, but for others it may be a way to save money. Other examples are to experience the thrill of it or simply because there were no vacancies available. In either case, sleeping in your vehicle does pose some dangers. Here are a few of those...

  • INNOVA Road Trip Rules - Refrain From Sleeping in Car
    • Being struck by another vehicle – particularly if you’re parked on the side of the road.
  • • Risk of asphyxiating from carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • • Being robbed or attacked by a stranger.
  • • Being seen by local police as vagrancy – some states have laws against people sleeping in a vehicle.
  • • Experiencing hypothermia or heat stroke – keep in mind that a car is not well insulated for extreme temperatures.

But if you do find yourself needing to sleep in your car, please follow these simple recommendations.

  • • Never leave your engine running while you sleep.
  • • Don’t use your vehicle’s power outlets while the engine is not running. Instead, bring an external charger for your cell phone and a flashlight or lantern for nighttime.
  • • Cover your windows to create some privacy. If possible, use a thick material to act as an insulator for cold nights.
  • • Open a window or sunroof to bring in some ventilation.
  • • Bring thermals, blankets, and other sleeping items to keep warm and cozy.
  • • Never park on the side of the road. Good parking areas are rest areas, grocery stores, casinos with free overnight parking, truck stops, religious buildings, 24-hour businesses, hotel or apartment area parking lots, and even some Walmart stores (check their signs).
  • • Try not to stay longer than one night.
  • • Don’t attract attention to yourself – pick up all trash and keep your car looking tidy.
  • • Lastly, if it feels unsafe, move on!

As we’ve shown, a road trip can be an amazing experience if you follow some simple guidelines. So, the next time you venture out, cherish your loved ones, stay safe, and have an awesome ride!