Top 10 Tips for a Smooth Summer Road Trip

We're halfway through the summer travel season and with two months of road tripping behind us, Rand McNally's editors offer these tips to make the most of the rest of the season.

Plan your trip. There often are many sources for planning but use those with which you feel most comfortable. Talk with friends and family for recommendations. Use Rand McNally's Road Atlas (available in print or digital format), or TripMaker® to build your ultimate American road trip. Create and manage full itineraries, and pinpoint interesting places to stop along the way. You also can easily print, email, and even export those trips to some Rand McNally GPS devices.

Load the car strategically. Start with the least essential items, followed by the more gear you'll need to access – including grab-and-go overnight bags. Keep absolute essentials nearby, such as first-aid kits, important medications, tissues, sanitizers, moist wipes, diapers, etc.

Improve fuel economy and save money. Roll down the windows when traveling at lower speeds, and use the air conditioning for highway driving. Hot weather can actually increase fuel economy since your engine warms up to an efficient temperature faster. Warm air also tends to cause less aerodynamic drag than cold air.1

Be road ready. Pack a first-aid kit, plenty of pocket packs of tissues, hand sanitizer, moist wipes, and a travel size spray bottle filled with rubbing alcohol. You can use the alcohol to sanitize hands, and clean surfaces. If you have young children, bring the removable plastic potty-chair receptacle in a plastic bag for use in emergency bathroom situations.

Bring a cooler. It's smart – and wise for your budget – to bring a small cooler filled with drinks, fruit and other healthy treats to stay well hydrated and well nourished on the road.

Pack things to keep everyone entertained. The license plate game can only go so far until the inevitable delay looking for the elusive Hawaii plate. Bring car games, print and audio books, and tablets loaded with digital books, games, and movies. The Rand McNally Store offers great products for backseat fun.

Stay connected. Bring a wireless router for mobile Internet access.

Create a customized playlist. Have fun selecting the perfect soundtrack to your road trip. If you don't have time to make your own, NPR has compiled a summer playlist for you.

Pack a separate plastic bin or a box to hold recyclables. If your campground doesn't offer recycling, use an app to help locate recycling centers.

Finally, take time to try new things. Whether it's pulling over for posted scenic overlook, or stopping for lunch in a local diner, make time to explore beyond the official itinerary.

About Rand McNally

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