Summer is near which means travel by air, road trips too. Check out Road & Travel Magazine's new summer travel safety issue for tips on how to keep yourself and family safe and sane during summer travel. [Click here for new issue]
As my solo tour across country made its way into the heartland of Oklahoma, the Texas Panhandle and into New Mexico, I quickly learned something about the route I had chosen for the trip. While it was quite nostalgic and interesting to ride this famous Route 66 (now called Interstate 40), what I didn't know was how windy the high plains could be. Nor did I realize that starting in Texas, there begins a slow but steady climb in elevation all the way to Flagstaff, Arizona, up to 7300 feet. I would have to say that this was probably the only error in judgement I made in the months of pre-planning and here's why... so you know not to make the same mistake.
First, the good news. It would have been far worse had I taken Interstate 70 across country into the Rockies as they are huge mountains with steep inclines, which would have been unbearable to drive with a loaded truck of furniture. Sure, cars passed by as if it were nothing but trucks do not respond as well to steep inclines as do cars. And it's not just my truck, it's all trucks. But let's get back to Interstate 40. The incline heading west on the 40 is miles and miles long, steady and slow, which seemed never ending. For a fully loaded truck, inclines use much more gas meaning you have to make more gas stops and spend more money. And, it exposes you more often outside the cabin of the truck adding the element of risk to your personal safety when traveling alone. It also leaves fewer choices in finding the best prices on gas as stations are far and few between along the 40 so filling up is absolutely necessary each time even if it means filling up at a high-cost station. In the small town of Needles, CA, near empty (both the truck and the town), the only gas station in town offered regular for $5.00 per gallon. There were no other choices so these are some of the traps you fall into that are to be expected.
Gas prices do fluctuate throughout the country so for the first half of the trip the truck did remarkably well on gas 'for a V10 engine' with thousands of pounds of furniture. I had budgeted about $1200 for fuel but did so unaware of the inclines and high crosswinds for the next thousand miles. Gas began to sift through then engine like water... sucking it down to make it up the inclines and fight the wind. And it got progressively worse the further west I headed. I asked a few natives along the way about the high winds thinking it was an anomaly but was quickly told that high winds are an everyday occurrence at this time of year in all the states I passed through. In my last hotel, the Hilton Gardens, a young woman in a baseball cap was delivering a pizza to a guest room. I asked her about the winds and how a woman keeps her hair in place if going somewhere special. Her reply, "you don't!"
What I found amusing when the headwinds began in Oklahoma was that there were no warning signs on the freeway to expect them. So I forged on but then when I hit New Mexico, there were signs everywhere that said severe crosswinds, which seemed too little too late. By then, I was in the thick of it with no turning back. It took two hands on the wheel to hold the truck steady against the buffeting winds, avoiding the swerve of passing 18-wheelers that were clearly fighting the wind as well. Cars seemed to fare a little better but those on motorcycles were in the fight for their life.
Signs began to show up that said if you see someone driving drunk, call this number... how funny I thought, how could you tell? The winds were so severe that everyone on the freeway looked as if they were driving under the influence with all swerving in unison as if to the rhythm of a slow dance. How much worse could it get, I wondered? It has to end sometime. It did not. It got worse in each state I passed through. In Oklahoma, the winds were head on at 30MPH, then by Arizona they hit 40MPH slapping the front of the truck with such force that the truck was pushed to the shoulder at times. It wasn't until I crossed into California that the winds and gusts were 50MPH... like driving in a bad storm with the sun raining down. From my hotel room, the howling wind sounded like a hurricane, but this is how it is here everyday.
The gas stops became more frequent and the gas prices higher as I approached the western states. My $1200 fuel budget quickly escalated to $1600. This is one of those lessons learned, to expect the unexpected. Be prepared for anything and everything.
One of the things that helped give me peace of mind was U-Haul's Green Gas Gauge that shows bars (like your cell phone) on when you're getting the best mileage. Unfortunately, driving uphill and in head on high winds showed the low bars, sometimes no bars, but when the inclines finally turned to declines, all 5 green bars showed up and often.
My goal was to provide you with an idea of the MPG the U-Haul Truck received overall but it wouldn't be a fair assessment due to the different weather and road challenges each day causing a significant variation in miles per gallon. So instead, next week, I'll provide a day by day MPG chart to demonstrate what a difference a day makes... due to weather and road conditions, inclines and declines, and all sorts of other unexpected surprises that can change your gas consumption from day to day.
U-Haul Fuel economy.
U-Haul rental trucks have a low profile, rounded corners and advanced chassis skirts to reduce wind drag and raise fuel economy 20%.
All U-Haul rental trucks use cheaper, cleaner and more convenient unleaded fuel.
Use the fuel-economy gauge to save money on fuel and reduce air pollution.
Our sponosrs U-Haul and Bridgestone Tires are committed to going green. U-Haul trucks offer a much lower center of gravity and sleeker design that its competitors, which makes their trucks more aerodynamic in the wind. After crossing the country, it was clear that most moving consumers knew this as there were more U-Hauls on the road than any other brand. The others, Budget and Penske, are built much taller with flat box-like trailers that likely fared much worse in the wind than we did so inspite of the high winds, I was thrilled to be in my U-Haul and not in a competitor truck.
Bridgestone has also made an environmental commitment with the development of their tires as well as their One Team One Planet program. It is an honor to work with companies that are not only female-friendly but care about our planet and are taking action to make a difference.
To read more about our story across country and one of the greatest young women in history, Sacajawea, who we honor with this trip, please click here.
The stars must have been aligned the first weekend of our "Women Traveling Alone" Safety Tour as every tree that lined the freeways was in full bloom with rich and radiant hues of green abundant against a pure blue sky. Norman Rockwell couldn't have painted a much more scenic backdrop himself.
Making it from Rhode Island via Canada to Detroit in my 17' U-Haul Truck (@Uhaul on Twitter and @UHaulCompany) over the weekend, which was loaded to the gills, took 2 days allowing only 300 miles on day one and 400 miles on day two. For some reason, the truck didn't like either Canada or Sonoco gas as it gave a few hiccups and burps throughout the country. Fortunately, it got over its little cold the next day. Not sure what that was all about but delighted it ended. Lessons learned, the earlier you start your road trip, the better all around. And here are a few reasons why.
1. If you are going through Canada or Mexico, make sure you have an up-to-date valid license and passport. Nowadays, you can get just a passport card instead of a full passport for crossing these borders however you cannot fly with a card. You must have a full passport to fly. The passport card looks just like a license only with different info on it. Allow at least 8 weeks before your trip to apply, which you can do online. If you're driving a moving truck, RV, big van or anything of the like, be prepared to be pulled over for an inspection if the border agents feel there's anything suspicious going on with you or your vehicle. I thought for sure driving a big moving van they'd pull me over, especially after 911, but they didn't entering Canada or the USA but I did see them pull over a few ahead of me. So, make sure your dirty laundry is not the first thing they see should they open the back of your truck.
2. As a woman driving alone, you want to drive during daylight hours, allowing for unexpected stops or delays. While traffic was unusally clear over the weekend, it took some time to get used to handling the loaded U-Haul and how even the slightest breeze affected the steering of such a high profile vehicle. The difference between driving an empty truck home from the U-Haul lot to driving a truck fully loaded with thousands of pounds of furniture is considerably different. It definitely required 2 hands on the wheel at all times.
3. There a hundreds of 18-wheelers on the freeway and while most are professionally trained drivers, and you are not, it can be daunting to have so many pass at high speeds causing wind gusts in their wake, which can make your moving truck a little swirly, so plenty to get used to which takes a little time but after awhile you get your groove on and get in the zone and learn the ways of the road.
4. When you leave early, you also leave plenty of time for gas stops or traffic delays, without getting your knickers in a knot about arriving late or after dark. At the end of each day, assuming it's still light out, I like to fill up with gas to quicken the morning start. I use the evenings and mornings in my room to reorganize notes, call ahead to the next hotel to confirm ETA, and prepare my food for the next day's drive so there's no fiddling around inside the cabin of the truck trying to find something to eat. All that I need is within eye and arm reach, allowing for a safe drive and less stop time. Less stop time means less time outside the cabin of the truck and more miles on the road.
So far, so good, however I do have to say how surprising I find it to see so many young women at some of these roadside travel service areas barely dressed, taking photos of each other, posing and giggling, just having harmless fun, yet from where I sit in the high profile U-Haul as I pull in, I also see men sitting in their cars, backed into a remote shaded spot, watching, staring, glaring... and the young women haven't a clue. One guy in an old Pontiac Firebird saw me pull up as he watched two girls taking photos of each other and for whatever reason, drove away in a hurry when I pointed at him. That's all it took. Whether he felt busted or was just on his way out we'll never know but his departure was unusual and behavior suspicious.
The goal of this journey is to help educate women of all ages, pay attention to your surroundings! There's always someone watching!
Our sincere thanks to Bridgestone Tire and U-Haul for sponsoring (@Uhaul on Twitter and @UHaulCompany) this 'Women Driving Solo" safety tour. Through their support, we're able to help educate more women about personal safety on the road.
To read our opening story on this journey, 'Women Traveling Alone' please visit us at Road & Travel Magazine, and read about the journey of Sacajawea, the young Indian woman (teen) who helped lead the 1804 Lewis & Clark Expedition to a safe conclusion.
Be sure to check back tomorrow for more tips of how to stay safe and sane on the road. I'll also share gas saving tips and how to better your MPG... leaving a lighter footprint.
by Courtney Caldwell
Driving around town is an everyday occurrence for most of us. Errands, going to and from work, picking up kids at school or soccer, grocery shopping, visiting family and friends, a girls’ night out… you know your area like the back of your hand.
But, what about driving into territory beyond your borders? Do you have a fear of driving outside your comfort zone? Do you worry about getting lost or even worse, followed?
The number one reason women stick close to home is fear of the unknown, what to do, what not to do, how to keep yourself safe on the road in unknown territory, never ming where to begin in the planning process of a big road trip. Whether you’re planning an across-country or across-town move, the very first place to begin your journey is with your homework and advanced planning.
I’m about to embark on a 3200-mile cross-country journey, driving a 17' U-Haul truck, and yes, all by myself. When I tell people of the road trip, they look at me dazed and confused, and then after a short pause ask, ‘you’re driving alone?’ That one question in itself speaks volumes to how much education is needed for women, and many men, on how to plan a road trip with fun, not fear.
Doing your homework and pre-planning are essential in making your journey safe and sane… whether across town or across country. It doesn’t matter if you’re 18 or 80, as long as you carefully plan out every detail of your trip's route, hotel stays, gas stops, navigation, and every detail of your trip, you'll arrive at your destination safely.
It is such an honor to have U-Haul as our ‘Women Traveling Alone’ road trip safety sponsor for a variety of reasons one of which is their connection and support to a young Shoshone Indian girl named Sacajawea, who served as an interpreter and guide on the famed Lewis & Clark Expedition in 1804. Her heroism in numerous life-saving contributions helped lead their two-year journey to a safe and successful conclusion.
Sacajawea, just a young teen at the time, not only provided guidance for hundreds of miles through the tough terrain of the northwest Rockies, then known as the Louisiana Purchase territory, she also demonstrated extraordinary courage and strength during numerous life-threatening events, often emerging as the hero who saving lives and supplies from devastating weather, potential enemy threats, and from capsized canoes. Sacajawea became known as the first woman to be included in a democratic vote on the all-male crew, sharing her knowledge and experience as to which route to take for most access to hunting for food and safe shelter in the wild.
In honor of Sacajawea, U-Haul has painted her mural on both sides of our moving truck to celebrate her accomplishments and help shed light on her exceptional contributions to the beginning of what shaped the U.S. today. Her story is one of bravery and the true meaning of persistence.
Her contributions were chronicled by Lewis & Clark in their personal diaries naming Sacajawea as the only person on the expedition who never complained or panicked when confronted with dangerous or devastating circumstances. Level-headed and fierce, she faced each event as it came, contributing significantly to a successful and safe outcome.
Sacajawea was married to a Frenchman twice her age, who had traded her for goods and supplies with a tribe who had kidnapped her at 12 (away from her Shoshone family and friends). While little is known about her husband’s contributions to the Lewis & Clark Expedition, Sacajawea’s accomplishments earned her a place in American history. Add to that, her journey included a pregnancy, childbirth in the wild, and then carrying her infant on her back during the expedition. The baby boy nicknamed Pompey, spent the first two years of his life living right along side his brave mother.
Sacajawea’s story is one of true courage and inspiration. It is with great pride that I have the opportunity to share her story as I traverse the U.S. in my 17’ U-Haul truck with her mural painted on each side, sharing her tale with everyone I meet along the way.
We'd also like to extend our deepest thanks and gratitude to long-time partner and sponsor, Bridgestone Tires, for their support of tire safety and helping people understand how to choose the right tires for their vehicle. As one of the leading tire companies in the world, Bridgestone is committed to not only helping women stay safe on the road but also to keeping our environment clean with their One Team One Planet message. Bridgestone Americas is dedicated to achieving a positive environmental impact in all of the communities it calls home. This commitment includes efforts such as developing tires with improved fuel economy, manufacturing products and providing services in an environmentally responsible way, and establishing wildlife habitat and education programs. For full story, click here.
Traveling with Your Pets - How to Keep Them Safe
Camping with Canines & Cats
6000 campgrounds pamper your pets
Hot Cars Cause Heat Stroke in Pets
Pets suffer same demise as kids
Gnawing at Numbers - Pet Travel Stats
America has more pets than people
B&B's Welcome Pets with Perks
Bed & Breakfast Bits for Bowser
Air Travel Tips for Cats & Dogs
Onboard or in the belly?
Transporting Your Vehicle
How to ship your car across country
Pet Travel Hotel Directory
Posh places to park your pooch
Pet Travel Insurance
Protect your pet on the road
Restraining Order for Pets
Protect pet from becoming projectile
Which Cars are Best for Pet Travel?
Choosing the right ride for Fido
Pet Petters Ploy for Stolen Purse
What to do if stolen when traveling?
Common Courtesy - Rules of the Road
8 Tips for common driving courtesy
For more information on Pet Travel Tips, click here.
When you are getting ready to go on a long road trip, you have a lot of preparations to make. First, of course, you have to plan out your trip – the stops you’ll be making, your ultimate destination, etc. You also have to prepare yourself, your family, and your car for the long trip. As you surely know if you have attempted it before, a road trip vacation without careful planning can quickly turn into a tedious affair. However, it is also essential to remember other aspects of preparation, in addition to planning your trip. For example, if you are leaving your home for an extended period of time – particularly in your car – it is necessary to set up your home with the best security possible in your absence.
The first step to take when leaving your home, with regard to home security, is to give your home every appearance of being occupied. This is where it becomes a slight concern that you are taking your car with you, as the presence of a car in the garage or driveway gives outsiders the impression that you are at home. If your family does have a second car, try to be sure that it is positioned in a way that outsiders can see it. Additionally, you should leave a light on somewhere in your home – preferably somewhere further inside, so that it gives off light but it is not apparent which rooms are lit. Finally, you should also tell your neighbors to be aware that you are out of town, so that they might report any suspicious activity they notice around your home.
Even more important than disguising your home to give the impression that it is occupied is to have actual security prepared to defend your home. If you have an up to date security system, you can activate it before you leave, setting up an alarm system, and possibly more, to guard your home in your absence. With modern systems, you can actually monitor your security from just about anywhere through your cell phone or wireless smart device, meaning that you can be in control of what’s happening at your home even when you are gone.
The best thing about these preparations is that they are relatively simple! It is easy to become overwhelmed by your to-do list as you prepare to take your road trip, but you can greatly increase the security of your home with just a few easy steps, as described above. This can give you the peace of mind of knowing that your home and possessions are safe, which can in turn allow you to enjoy your vacation more thoroughly, and with a stress-free attitude.
Katie M. is a writer and blog contributor.
The first and most obvious tip to safeguarding your automobile is to remove all valuable items which can be seen. That means things like packages, bags, radar detectors, cell phones, cameras and audio/video equipment. Either place these items in your trunk or take them with you. Once inside the hotel, you can use a safe to store your valuables. Also, double-check and make sure to roll up all of the windows and lock your vehicle.
Once you get to your room, keep these tips in mind:
• Keep the room door locked, especially deadbolts.
• Do not let anyone in your room without properly identifying them first. Use the door's peep hole, if there's any question concerning the person's identity, ring the front desk as soon as possible.
• Safeguard your room key at all times. Do not give your key to others. Do not leave your key in the room or in the door.
• Find the location of the two exits nearest your room. Also, count the number of doors between your room and the nearest exit so you will have a reference point if the hallway is smoky. Locate alarms and extinguishers in your area. Look out the window and note height and surroundings for reference.
• When you hear an alarm, don't investigate. If you smell smoke, immediately notify the hotel operator. Read all tips here.
Traveling with pets is becoming more of a norm for pet-owners than in recent years. From road trips to long-haul air flights to stays at beautiful resorts, four-legged companions are officially members of the family when they make the vacation roster.
If you are planning a trip with your four-legged friend then please keep in mind these tips for traveling with pets.
1. In the Car
Keep fresh water and a bowl available. Every time you stop, go ahead and fill it up. While you’re sipping on a drink throughout your drive, your dog is panting its way to dehydration.
And just like with your kids, plan for stops at rest areas or parks to let everyone stretch their legs, relieve themselves, and burn off some restless energy.
“Practice” traveling with your pets before heading off on a long drive or flight. Keeping your dogs in a crate is a great way to recreate a familiar environment for them, which both soothes their anxiety and provides an extra bit of security in the event of an accident.
2. On Airplanes
Most airlines make flying with pets fairly painless. Many require a health certificate filled out by a veterinarian to be submitted ahead of time. An easy way to ruin a vacation is to find out that your pet can’t fly at the check-in desk. Be sure to check with an airline before you fly for all their specific restrictions and requirements. For example, some airlines prohibit brachycephalic or snub-nosed dogs and cats as checked luggage. Breeds represented include Boston Terriers, Pekingese, and Shih Tzu.
Have you thought about visiting a State Park? These parks are often within 50 miles from home, making it easy for visitors to come and go as they please.
ParksByNature Network is working with the Government to Save the Parks by marrying today’s technology that is often used to navigate through our days by bringing The Sanctioned and Approved Mobile Tour Guide to enhance your visit.
Pocket Ranger™ apps are offered in a “FREE” and “purchasable” Pro-Enhanced version formatted for Apple and Android devices.
These tour guides also translate into a universal mobile website for each participating state park system, making Pocket Ranger extremely accessible for everyone to use. With its innovative features, Pocket Ranger™ enhances a visitor’s experience before, during, and after an outing to a state park. These guides deliver to users hundreds of maps, real-time location-based weather conditions, park overview, park history, calendar of events, reservations, photo sharing and social networking capability through today’s popular sites.
Did you ever lose child in a park? Well, the Friend/Family Finder feature can help reduce this problem. Users can sync their devices to locate and keep track of one another. Full story