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How You Can Deal with Unfortunate Road Travel Situations (or Avoid Them Altogether)
Many of us take road travel for granted. We feel safe and secure inside our automobiles. We expect them to work correctly. We expect them to protect us. And while road travel is pretty uneventful most of the time, millions of people every year must deal with some sort of unfortunate road travel situation. From wrecks and car troubles, to natural disasters and weather-related headaches, here’s how you can avoid being an unhappy traveler.
What to do if your car breaks down
Nothing can turn a routine road trip into a nightmare faster than car trouble. Anyone who has experienced this knows the signs - the grinding of metal, smoke coming from the hood, sputtering, or the galloping thud of a flat tire. It’s no fun, but it does happen. There is a right way and wrong way to handle it, too.
First, you should pull over as far as you can on the right shoulder (or the left if you’re on a multi-lane interstate). Don’t get out of the car just yet. Place your emergency call before you do anything else (either to AAA, 911, or a friend). After that, you need to make yourself and your car more visible to other motorists. Turn on your double flashers, pop your hood, and put out safety cones or triangles (which you should always have with you). Get out of your car and stand away from it - not in front of or behind it. You don’t want to be caught up in an all-too-frequent roadside sideswipe. Check out AAA’s great guide to this here.
Being prepared is a good motto for almost everything in life, but when it comes to travel trouble it is oh so important. You must have a well-stocked car disaster kit with you whenever you travel. You never know when you could be stranded in your car due to a major weather event or natural disaster, an accident, or due to car trouble. Your kit should, at the very least, include a first aid kit, flashlights with extra batteries, some food and water, blankets, road flares, a lighter, and a crank radio. HomeAdvisor has a comprehensive kit walkthrough here.
So you’ve found yourself in the middle of a storm
Inclement weather can throw a wrench into any trip. Road travelers often find themselves in the middle of thunderstorms, snow storms, or major ice events.
If you encounter severe weather, the smartest thing to do is to turn on your brights and pull off the road. It’s best to get entirely off the roadway, but a shoulder will do if that’s all you have. Once you do this, turn on your flashers and stay in the car until the heavy rain passes.
Driving through snow and ice is a little tricky, but it can be done if you know what you’re doing. Of course, if your car (or your driving skills) can’t handle the conditions, pull over. You should never over-correct a skid and if you feel your car barely sliding on the back end it’s best to take your foot off the gas and brake and try to let it correct itself. Beyond that, you can try steering into the slide, as Business Insider notes.
Just take a break
As Safemotorist.com notes, being safe and alert is paramount to avoiding road travel mishaps. And you cannot be alert if you are tired. There’s this driving force behind most travelers to get where they’re going as fast as possible, but sometimes you just need to stop and take a break. Taking a short rest on longer road trips will not only recharge you but will give your car a break as well.
Being a happy traveler is all about planning, preparation, and knowing what to do in even the most unlikely of scenarios. Make sure you have a car emergency kit at all times - this is the most important aspect of handling road travel mishaps. Beyond that, you should know your limits as a driver. It’s ok to stop and rest or let some bad weather pass. You’ll still get to your destination. There’s nothing so important that it can’t wait 10 minutes.
Henry is the co-creator of FitWellTraveler. The site blends two of his favorite subjects (travel and health) to provide readers with information about how to get the most out of both.