If you plan to hit the road in your car this summer, you'll be among about the roughly 50 million Americans to take a road trip in 2019. The smartest ones drive prepared. As you head across the country or Up North, here's what you should think about to make sure you have a safe, enjoyable trip.
Cellphone laws: Hand over all navigation, music selections and web searches for lunch spots to your co-pilot. Using hand-held devices is against the law in a growing number of states; Minnesota joins the list Aug. 1.
Get a tuneup: Have a mechanic check batteries, belts, tires and fluids. AAA says to check tread wear, "Insert a quarter into a tread groove with the top of Washington's head facing down … If you can see above the top of Washington's head, it is time to start shopping for new tires." You'll be happy for the full container of windshield wiper fluid when you drive through a swarm of bugs. And you don't want a blown tire or a dead battery keeping you on the side of the road, prolonging the wait to jump in the lake.
Pack well: That means jumper cables, flares, a tire jack and a spare tire, not just a beach bag, said David Nance, CEO of Sabre Security Equipment Corp. That company just introduced a Safe Escape 3-in-1 Automotive Tool, which includes a seat-belt cutter, car window glass breaker and maximum-strength pepper gel to use against multiple threats. If you're going somewhere remote, pack a few items in case you get stranded such as extra water, blankets and a few power bars, too. Don't forget your insurance card.
On the road: AAA suggests that drivers stop for a mini-break about every 100 miles or two hours.
Share your plan: Let someone know your route and timing and — this is important — remember to call them when you arrive, no matter how excited you are to get the vacation started.
Send your questions or tips to Travel Editor Kerri Westenberg at firstname.lastname@example.org, and follow her on Twitter: @kerriwestenberg.