Travelling as a way of life or just for fun can have its challenges. Whether it be other drivers, animals, or road and weather conditions. Many things can get in the way of your good time! Over the years, I have developed some travelling habits to keep me safe, and keep it fun. Here are my Top 7 Travel tips to help make your next adventure a pleasurable experience.
1. Know and Maintain your Vehicle
This is so important!!! Breakdowns are both inconvenient and can be expensive! If you break down in the wrong place, it could also be dangerous!
Maintaining your vehicle speaks for itself. Oil changes are much like a shower! Sure feels good and keeps your vehicle healthy! You have to admit. Nothing runs smoother than after a lube job! One of the best places while I am on the road for a great oil change is Jiffy Lube. The garages are usually big enough for my Roadtrek, and I have never had a bad service experience.
What do I mean about “knowing” your vehicle? Listen to the engine when she starts, idles, accelerates. Listen to how it sounds when everything is working well. A lot of times, you can hear a problem before you see a problem. When I discovered a bad oil leak, it was because of a sound. A small ticking on start up made me ask myself what is that? Breaks are another sound before it gets expensive item. Once you hear them start squeaking, it’s time to take a look.
How does the van feel when pulling away, stopping, changinging gears or climbing hills? Sometimes a hesitation with tell you of a fuel flow issue.
Learn to regularly check your fluids and keep extra on hand. There are always those issues that give you no warning but most of the time if you are paying attention, you can detect it before it becomes a serious issue.
2. Travelling after Dark
This one really depends on the roads I am driving on! If it is a six lane highway through a city, then dark or light, it does not matter. If I am travelling two lane roads in the country or gravel roads, I always try to be parked by dusk and do not leave until after dawn.
The main reason for this is animals!!! I have been hit by four deer! Yup, they hit me. I did not drive into the field and hit them. They did a lot of damage. I have seen the damage a moose can cause. There is also the road demographics to consider. Winding country roads, dips, and turns makes it difficult to see far enough ahead. Backroads are always a daytime drive as you never know if you are going to come upon a road that is washed-out or a soft dirt that you should have walked first. Getting stuck ohhhhh so sucks!!
3. Determining Where to Park for the Night
I would rather boondock, but whether I am staying in a campsite, a walmart or at the end of a deadend road, I always either get there before dark or know where I am going before it gets dark. How do I determine where I am going to park?
I have apps like Ioverlander and Free Campsites or I will look for a Walmart on Google maps. With Google Satellite you can find little parking lots or deadend streets. I will sometimes find a quiet dead end street or a parking lot into a park or conservation area and go to street view and see if I can see any no overnight parking signs.
As I am travelling I determine how long I am going to travel and work out a spot from there. Now sometimes, that does not always work out. I have a habit of getting behind the wheel and just keep driving, going right past it, or stop too many times to see the sights, and now it’s getting late. For those times, I just wing it!! Sometimes you find the best spots that way.
Which ever way it ends up, I always try to be parked by dark. I like to go into a place with a little light, so I can see what is around me! Which leads me to number 4!
4. Know your Surroundings
Whether you are driving or parked, know what is happening around you. As I am driving, I keep an eye on my mirrors so I know what is coming up behind me or beside me. This has saved me numerous times making a lane change or a turn. You see the guy approaching much more rapidly then they should be. When I stop at stop lights, and it changes green, I make sure oncoming traffic is going to stop. I have got honked at a few times, but I am sure it’s because I am so beautiful!! Lol! It has happened that someone has ran a red and luckily I seen he was not going to stop.
Pulling in to park somewhere, whether it is for the night or the afternoon, know what is around you. Most of the time, I will go to a park to have dinner and then go to where I am staying for the night. Sometimes that is difficult to stay aware of what is around me, as I can get lost in what I am doing, especially writing! But I find my other senses will take over. I am aware but engrossed!! Hahaha! High winds and tall trees are not always a good combination. I become aware of the sound of a car pulling into the parking lot or parking close to my van. Of people talking, but most of all being aware of the feeling I get when I sit and observe my surroundings.
I am a big believer in intuition, if it does not feel right then don’t stay! Start the engine!!! Lol! One time I was parked in a park that I frequently go to when I am in the area. A truck came into the parking lot. Drove slowly by a couple of times with the guy intently looking at me then parked and just kept watching me. Ohhhh that gives me shivers! Time to go! I closed my doors, started my engine and left. Maybe he had no intent for anything but why take the chance? If it does not feel right! MOVE!
5. Drive and Park According to the Weather
This one is simple, but a lot of people do not follow it! If your hands are on the steering wheel and white knuckles because of a snowstorm, heavy rainfall, or thick fog, pull over and park! Driving an RV everywhere, I take full advantage of that. All I need is a parking lot or a pull off, and I park, turn the furnace on and make a coffee!
If you can drive and the conditions are bad slow down. I know your saying, well of course……but man, I am pretty sure people are not thinking that. How many times has someone passed you in bad weather, and you have seen them in the ditch later? Not enough for me Lol! We all know sooner or later, it’s about to happen! Just as long as they do not take me out with them!!
6. Explore with Caution
I encourage everyone to explore. Go down that backroad, go down that street that you always wanted to go down. You find the most amazing things that way but do it carefully. Breaking something, or getting stuck is no fun. With no phone service, it’s doubly not fun!
I love exploring but have I learned not every road is meant to be travelled on. Like when it turns to goat path be prepared to back up. If it turns to a rocky goat path and backing up becomes not an option, look for a turnaround point!
One of the things I have learned about exploring is that always make sure you have an escape plan. Make sure you can get down that road. As you have read in my other blogs I am used to backing up. But if I do not have to that’s better! Lol! Walk the road if it is soft. Make sure you are not going to sink. This goes back to knowing your vehicle. How heavy is she? Can the ground hold her? I do not like sinking! Lol!
Know the area you are exploring! If you plan on getting out of your vehicle and hiking or walking which I do quite often know the plants and animals that may hurt you. An example is poison ivy or poison oak. I am not susceptible to these but I know people who are and it is an itchy pain. Know the animals you will be sharing the path with. Are there bears in the area, wolves, or sasquatches? I have bear bells for bears, I wonder if they work on sasquatches as well??? Hmmmm!
7. Enjoy the Ride
However you like to travel do it in a way you enjoy, If you only want to travel for an hour and you get tired then only travel for an hour. If you are a get on the highway and drive kind of person do that. Stop to look at that plaque or drive down that side road to see where it goes. That is the nice thing about travelling in an RV, the options are endless.
How ever you do it do it safely because you never know what is around the next corner!
Thanks for coming along on my Chipmunk Adventure! Hopefully you can use some of my tips to keep your journey a little more safe!!
See you next week