With Christmas and the New Year just around the corner, I'm sure many of you are planning on doing some traveling. For some of you, that may entail just a few hours by car or plane. However, for the majority of you there's probably a major road trip involved.
The kids and I took off on our two day road trip Saturday morning. While planning our trip and discussing it with friends and my FRG Leader, I often heard, "How long of a drive is it?" or "Just you and the four kids?!" or "Have you checked the weather?" and my standard responses were "It's a two day drive. We'll be just fine. I do this all the time." and "The kids are really seasoned travelers." and "I've been watching the weather for the last week."
I've never been one to stay at home because I was afraid of heading out on my own. If I want to be somewhere, I'm going to get there. That doesn't mean that I take off with reckless abandon, though. I plan my trip carefully and always have an atlas on hand. The atlas has proven a true friend on more than one occasion. As a matter of fact, it got me back on the proper interstate this past weekend. There was construction in Oklahoma City and the signage was confusing at one point. I exited the wrong ramp and found myself on the wrong road. I managed to find my way back to the interstate without having to stop for any kind of directions. Even with an atlas, using one of the mapping services on the internet is always a good idea, too. The internet may have more recent maps than your atlas and be able to give more precise directions.
Another good idea, though I haven't done it myself, is to check on any road construction that may be taking place along your route. There's little more frustrating than being delayed due to road construction; especially if an alternate route could have helped you avoid those delays.
Weather forecasts are always helpful in planning, also. Depending on the weather, road conditions may be another concern. I think that we probably tend to be more careful when driving during the winter months, as road conditions can deteriorate quickly and with little warning. However, it is important to be aware of surface conditons along your travel route regardless of season or climate.
If you will be driving with little ones it's a good idea to check each state's laws regarding child safety seats. These days most parents are keeping their children in some type of car seat until around age six. However, depending on the state you reside in, your children may be out of their seats as early as four or as late as eight. It's important to remember that when traveling through any given state you are required to abide by their laws, regardless of what the law is in your state of residence.
Be careful, cautious, and vigilant while driving. Remember to maintain safe speeds. We are usually anxious to arrive at our destination and that excitement often manifests into speeding. Aside from an expensive ticket and possible increase in your insurance rates, speeding can be dangerous and deadly. It's a busy travel time and others may also be in a hurry and drive carelessly. Be cautious of other drivers; watch for blinkers and brake lights. Finally, be aware of your surroundings when making rest stops. Whether it's a rest stop on the interstate, a truck stop or gas station, or a hotel for the night, you can't be too careful; especially if you are traveling alone. All of my years of driving alone and with the kids, I've never had a problem and have met some very kind, helpful people. However, we all know that there are other people out there who are less than kind and it's best to always remain cautious.
Whether on the road or staying put, I hope that you all have a wonderful Christmas and a blessed New Year.