Road trips are a wonderful way to vacation and explore. It can be exciting to have enough control over your own travel plans that you can just jump in a car and drive, but there are a few things student drivers especially need to watch out for.
Long-distance travel is tricky, especially if you’re not used to it. Those with fewer experiences, like young student drivers, are not aware of the hazards long-distance traveling presents
Not only are there hazards on the road, but long-distance travel subjects a vehicle to more wear and tear. These kinds of conditions can lead to many kinds of issues and setbacks. Some of these issues require more professional help and even assistance from an insurance company.
Not all travel is done during business hours, Monday through Friday. In reality, a good portion of long-distance travel takes place on non-working days. If issues or accidents arise, it’s important to know whether auto insurance companies are open on weekends.
Benefits of Travel for Student Drivers
All the talk of issues and setbacks may make a few people reconsider long-distance travel, but the opposite is true. Long-distance travel is incredibly beneficial for student drivers. This kind of travel offers two categories of benefits. It allows young individuals the chance to experience other cultures or places and plenty of opportunities to practice hours of driving.
Experiencing Other Cultures
Studies have shown that experiencing other places and cultures provides a number of positive benefits for students. Those who spend time in different areas and cultures make substantial gains in confidence, compassion, perspective, and develop a deep sense of appreciation.
Students who travel are able to see and understand different perspectives while developing the ability to think outside the box to problem-solve. Furthermore, students who spend time in other cultures show better academic performance while creating and sustaining new friends and relationships.
This kind of travel and experience is more than achievable in this day and age. Not only are areas more reachable, but with advancements in technology and educational opportunities, many students are able to travel while taking online classes.
Students who wish to travel can do so without sacrificing time from academic studies. Seeing the world while working toward a high school or even college degree is more possible now than ever before.
By the way, students can use the discoverybit travel directory to view tourist attractions within their travel route/destination. Here is how it works:
Outside of the once-in-a-lifetime experience of traveling and studying, student drivers can gather immense hours of driving experience. In most states, student drivers are required to record many hours behind the wheel.
Long-distance driving provides student drivers the ability to practice driving with minimal interruption or distractions. More often than not, long-distance driving is full of long stretches of driving with limited traffic and changes in road conditions.
This kind of experience can be incredibly beneficial for student drivers. There are fewer cars on the road, so young drivers can focus on their own driving technique and ability. On the other hand, long-distance driving can present some serious issues to young, inexperienced drivers.
How to Prepare to Travel
One of the most important steps in long-distance travel is preparation. There are many things to address to make sure your vehicle is operating in top mechanical condition.
Take Your Car to the Mechanic
Before taking a vehicle on a long-distance trip, consider stopping at a certified mechanic for an oil change and a new air filter. This same mechanic can, in most cases, inspect the vehicle tires as well. If the tires are in good working order, then see if the air pressure is at the correct level.
The air filter should be clear of all dust and debris. This small but important piece of equipment can affect engine performance and lead to more serious problems down the line. In some cases, an air filter can be cleaned, but more serious clogs and debris will need to be changed entirely.
The vehicle’s fluids should also be checked. Everything from the coolant to windshield wiper fluid and even brake fluid should be evaluated for level and cleanliness. Any fluid that is found to be low should be topped off.
A cursory inspection of all lights and indicators should be done as well. Lights and indicators protect all drivers, so they need to be in good working order. Any repairs or changes should be made before the trip.
The same inspection should be done with the windshield wipers as well. Make sure the windshield itself is clean and free of any cracks. The wipers themselves should be operational as well.
Take a full review of the inner workings of the vehicle and engine itself. Examine the belts, hoses, spark plugs, and brake pads to see if they are within the manufacturer’s suggested specifications.
This kind of inspection is time-consuming, but it is an invaluable learning experience. Student drivers will learn the cost, in both time and money, of taking care of a vehicle. This kind of thorough inspection can also save valuable time and headaches down the road.
Keep Your Car Stocked with Supplies
In addition to the mechanical checklist for your vehicle, there are a handful of things that should be kept in your car when embarking on a long-distance adventure. These things are both for safety and peace of mind in case of emergency.
Before taking a long-distance trip, consider stocking your vehicle with the following items:
a) Jumper cables
b) Tire-changing supplies (pliers, hammer, jack, wrench, socket set, and road flares)
c) Necessary paperwork (owner’s manual and road maps)
e) Duct tape
f) First-aid kit
g) Bottled water
h) Non-perishable snacks
l) Bungee cords
Travel Tips While Driving
There are many dangers and concerns on the road when traveling long distances. The biggest concern is the well-being of the driver. Long-distance trips can cause drowsiness and fatigue, which can lead to accidents and injuries.
There are many ways to help young, and more experienced, drivers stay awake, alert, and engaged while driving long-distance.
#1 – Start Your Trip Well Rested
The best way to ensure that a driver is well focused and engaged is to start off well rested. If a driver begins a trip sluggish or tired, then they will become more tired and place all drivers and passengers in danger.
Make sure any driver has had eight hours of sleep the night before a long-distance trip. They should take frequent breaks and maintain safe driving habits.
#2 – Bring Healthy Snacks and Beverages
Keeping healthy snacks and ample hydration nearby will help make sure a driver stays alert. Healthy snacks like carrots, almonds, or protein-packed options provide necessary vitamins and nutrition. Long-distance travels usually lead to sugary, processed snacks and quick stops through drive-thru windows.
These processed, greasy foods zap any energy in a driver and lead to drowsiness. Minimizing these encounters will only help keep a driver alert and safe.
#3 – Plan Frequent Rest Stops
Long-distance traveling keeps individuals in a small confined space for many hours. The confiding nature of distance traveling can make it difficult for young drivers to stay awake, alert, and comfortable.
The best way to combat these issues is to plan frequent rest stops. These stops will give breaks for the mind and ample opportunity for exercise and stretches. Both of these help to refocus the mind, relax the body, and get the blood flowing.
#4 – Chew Gum While Driving
A quick and easy tip to help a driver stay awake and engaged in their driver is to chew gum. The repetitive motion of chewing increases blood circulation and alertness.
Chewing gum is a great way to stay awake and engaged without adding additional restroom stops or breaks. Student drivers can easily engage in this habit so they don’t put themselves or others at risk, making it a productive and safe travel tip.
#5 – Invest in Energizing Scents
Scents are incredibly powerful. When used correctly, a scent can help make sure an individual stays awake and alert. This is a very important trick for drivers who are traveling long distances.
One of the most powerful scents for this purpose is peppermint. A quick sniff of all-natural peppermint can reduce fatigue while increasing alertness. It’s also possible to use a car diffuser and have a steady stream of diluted peppermint scent to aid a driver over long distances.
#6 – Practice Safe Driving Posture
How a driver positions themselves in the car determines how focused and how comfortable they will be as they spend hours on the road. It’s a best practice to sit in a comfortable but safe and productive position.
The safest driving position is one that is upright, but slightly tilted so blood can flow properly. This ensures that the brain receives maximum blood flow, which will keep a driver awake and alert while driving.
As you drive, remember to check in with all areas of your body. If you notice soreness in one area, then shift your weight to relieve the tension and pressure. If soreness continues or becomes worse, find a safe place to stop and spend time outside of the vehicle before continuing the road trip.
#7 – Plan Safe Entertainment
It’s a good idea to have a cache of entertainment for passengers. These pieces of entertainment should be safe and not present further distractions to the driver.
Planning safe forms of entertainment will help maintain a safe driving environment for a student driver. When passengers are bored on long travels, they may argue or bicker among themselves. This kind of interaction is distracting for drivers and creates a tense atmosphere that can lead to more dangerous situations.
#8 – Listen to Audiobooks
Consider investing in an audiobook subscription or download some options for free. Studies have shown that engaging the brain while driving helps keep drivers focused and more alert. The type of engagement, however, is important.
Listening to music does not engage the brain in the same way or at the same level as audiobooks. It’s been found by these same studies that humor, or laughing, is one of the best ways to keep a driver focused and alert.
Playing an audiobook while traveling long distances can help student drivers avoid becoming overtired or falling victim to highway hypnosis.
Beware of Highway Hypnosis
Many people consider highway hypnosis as dozing or falling asleep at the wheel. The truth is, however, that highway hypnosis is that unsettling phenomenon of driving without any conscious recollection of what’s happened.
The phenomenon is an unconscious behavior. A person with highway hypnosis can drive in a relatively safe manner and respond to things happening around them. But, once they arrive at their destination or journey hours on the road, they realize they don’t remember anything about the trip.
A tired driver is believed to be the most common cause of highway hypnosis, but it can also happen to a driver who is well rested and focused.
Highway hypnosis is also caused by driving long distances with little stimulation or variation in driving action or scenery. This kind of sameness or monotonous drive can lull the conscious mind into a state of distraction.
It’s vitally important that student drivers understand this phenomenon and have a plan for combating highway hypnosis. Learning how to be engaged and focused while driving will serve student drivers long past their days of learning.
Common Travel Issues
Even with all the preparation, planning, and preemptive snacking, there are still opportunities for issues and problems to arise. Long-distance traveling leaves more than ample room for travel disasters. While it is not a guarantee that these problems will plague every driver, there is enough of a concern that each and every driver should be prepared.
Student drivers especially should be aware of common travel problems and know how to handle them. This knowledge and preparation will help young drivers feel prepared, comfortable, and confident behind the wheel.
There are four very common vehicle problems that can interrupt any long-distance trip. Each of these problems can be handled with a little forethought before setting off or on the road.
#1 – Flat Tire
One of the most common travel issues for long-distance travels is a flat tire. Long distances put a lot of stress on tires and can lead to weak spots, foreign objects, or blowouts. Flat tires can also be from driving over unknown or unfamiliar terrain.
A flat tire can be changed on the side of the road or a safe parking lot. Most vehicles should have the necessary tools to change or repair a tire as well. In instances of a full blowout and damage to other areas of the vehicle or missing tools, you can call for roadside assistance.
#2 – Engine Overheating
Overheating is another common issue for long-distance drivers. The most common reason for overheating is traveling long distances in hot, hot temperatures. Of course, not every instance of driving in hot temperatures leads to overheating vehicles.
If a car overheats, then the best treatment is time. Allowing a car time to cool down to proper temperatures will help remedy the situation. However, an overheating car can be a sign of more serious issues. Once a car has returned to a cooler temperature, then it should be taken to a certified mechanic for further inspection.
#3 – Dead Battery
A car’s battery can easily be drained on long-distance trips. This is often the result of extended use of headlights or other electronic features, but it can also be a result of low fluids.
The best way to keep a battery charged is to make sure it is in good working order before setting off on a trip. It’s a best practice to carry jumper cables or a portable charging device in case there are issues with the battery.
#4 – Squealing Brakes
Brakes can also present some serious issues while traveling long distances. Even with a thorough inspection of a vehicle’s brakes before a trip, there is still the opportunity for issues along the way.
Squeaky brakes are usually a result of excessive use. If the squeak persists, it might be time for another inspection or even new brakes.
Know When to Call Your Insurance Company
These issues and concerns can be overwhelming for young drivers. If these issues lead to accidents or damages to their vehicle, things can be even more worrisome. In these instances, it may be worth a call to the insurance agent. If the call needs to be made outside of traditional business hours or days, will there be an insurance agent to answer the phone?
Many large insurance companies have call centers or online chatting abilities that are available 24/7. These avenues are quick contact points for quick questions or concerns. Other companies have local agents that operate on Saturdays and Sundays.
Know whether your insurance provider is open on weekends before leaving for long-distance travels in case of an emergency.
Enjoy Your Road Trip
Long-distance travels are not only fun and educational, but can be wonderful learning opportunities for student drivers. Remember to be prepared and invest in some of the tips to ensure that drivers stay awake and alert after miles and miles of driving.Tags: Long-distance travel plan a trip student driver Students