The process of planning a vacation can sometimes seem similar to deploying, but instead of your unit, you go with your spouse, the children and sometimes pets. But just like deployment planning, you need to sit down in advance and develop a checklist to help your vacation go smoothly and safely.
First, organize your plans and complete an assessment via the Travel Risk Planning System, found at https://safety.army.mil/. Your plans should include departure times, where you’ll stay and how far you plan to travel daily. Additionally, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration offers the following tips to make your drive safe and enjoyable.
Vehicle safety checklist
Regular maintenance such as tune-ups, oil changes, battery checks and tire rotations go a long way toward preventing breakdowns before they happen. If your vehicle has been serviced according to the manufacturer’s recommendations, it should be in good shape and nearly ready to travel. If not, or you don’t know the service history of the vehicle you plan to drive, schedule a maintenance checkup with your mechanic before you go.
What to take
Be sure to pack some items to make your trip more pleasant, such as favorite CDs or snacks to tide you over until the next rest stop. Age-appropriate reading material, coloring books and portable DVD players can keep passengers occupied as you tick off the miles to your destination.
Child safety seats
If you’re traveling with children, you’ll need to make room in the backseat for appropriate child safety and/or booster seats. NHTSA guidelines for proper child safety and booster seat use can be found at http://www.safercar.gov/parents/CarSeats.htm.
Never leave children unattended in parked vehicles, especially during warmer weather. Temperatures inside a vehicle can soar even on relatively cool summer days with the windows partially open, rapidly causing occupants to suffer from heat illness or die from heat stroke.
Emergency roadside kit
Even a well-maintained vehicle can break down, so it’s advisable to put together an emergency roadside kit to carry with you. A cellphone tops the list of suggested emergency kit contents since it allows you to call for help when and where you need it. Other suggested emergency roadside items include:
• First aid kit
• Flares and white flag
• Jumper cables
• Jack and ground mat for tire changing
• Work gloves and change of clothes
• Basic repair tools and duct tape
• Jug of water and paper towels
• Nonperishable food, drinking water and medicines
• Extra windshield washer fluid
• Maps and/or a GPS device
There’s one thing you and your travel companions can agree on: Getting to your destination and back safely is priority No. 1.
For additional information on driving safety, visit https://safety.army.mil.