A spring break road trip is as exciting for your kid as it is worrisome for you. You may not be able to stop him from partying ’til he pukes or her from entering that wet T-shirt contest (she wouldn’t do that, would she?), but you can focus on a few things that are under your control. Help make the trip less risky for your child and a shade less nail-biting for you.
Prep the Car
Make sure the vehicle is safe and ready for travel. Pay attention to:
Tires: The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates tire failure causes about 11,000 crashes every year. Invest in a new set of quality tires before your child hits the road. TireBuyer sells BF Goodrich tires in a variety of performance categories and price levels.
Brakes: Do a spot check by looking in between the wheel spokes for the brake pads—they should be pressed against a rotor. The brake pad should be at least one-quarter-inch thick; if it’s not, put a new set of brake pads on the agenda. Other signs of excessive brake wear and tear include:
- Less responsiveness
- A “sinking” brake pedal when you press it to the floor
- Pulling or grinding
Emergency kit: Consumer Reports recommends you include these items:
- First-aid kit
- Tire gauge
- Basic tools including a wrench, screwdriver, sockets and pliers
- Lug wrench, jack, spare tire and foam tire sealant
- Jumper cables
- Rags, blanket, extra clothes
- Drinking water and nonperishable food
- Pen and paper
- Phone number to your auto club
Invest in a portable battery booster, too. Some come equipped with a built-in light and an air compressor, making it a good multifunctional tool to have on hand.
Know Their Location
Don’t expect your kid to call you four times a day with an update on his or her spring break activities. Asking for a text or two, however, is not out of line. If your kid is headed someplace where cell phone reception is iffy, get a portable or in-car CB radio. It’ll prove invaluable if he has car trouble, and it also gives you quick access to your child.
If you’re really, really nervous about the whole thing, get a super-duper GPS navigation system. A standard system helps with mapping out a route and directions, but a super-duper one can actually keep track of the car’s location. GPS trackers typically consist of a small device you can place in a bag or glove box or mount on the car’s dash. The price usually includes the cost of the device plus a monthly service fee for the tracking capabilities. One option is the eZoom, a small device that goes for $99.99 plus a service fee. It comes with multiple tracking options and sends you location alerts via email or text messages.
It will not, however, alert you if she enters a wet T-shirt contest. Sorry.