Hitting the road on your next trip? Whether you’re heading to Grandma’s with the kids or driving up the coast of Australia, don’t leave home without our tried and tested driving tips. Read on to learn more about avoiding traffic, saving money and staying safe (and staying awake!) on your next road trip.

  1. Before beginning a long drive, always get enough sleep and eat a snack or meal. Highly caffeinated beverages are not necessarily the best way to stay awake while driving. While initially you will feel more alert, the effects can recede with time, and your attention may wander although you remain awake.
  2. Pull over and take breaks every couple of hours, even if you don’t feel sleepy. Grab a snack, get some fresh air and stretch your legs by walking around. If you need to, take a quick nap.
  3. If you can, share the driving responsibilities with someone else. This will allow you to keep an eye on each other while driving and also enable you to nap without losing time. If you’re driving alone, turn on the radio or put on some music, and keep your window cracked open. You may want to refrain from using your cruise control if you’re driving alone at night — having to concentrate on maintaining your speed can help you stay awake.
  4. If you do have to pull over, move your vehicle off the road. Never park on the shoulder or in the breakdown lane for any reason except an emergency.
  5. Know the laws along your route concerning cell phone use while driving. While it may be legal in one place, it may be illegal in another, and ignorance is not typically an acceptable excuse for a violation. Here’s a handy chart of cell phone laws by country and U.S. state (keep in mind that this information can change at any time). However, even if it’s legal to talk on a cell phone where you’re going, it’s usually safest to use a hands-free device.
  6. If you don’t know this one, shame on you. Never drink any alcohol before your trip. While you may not become intoxicated from one beer, you will become sleepy.
  7. Keep an eye on the skies, and if you can, plan a route around inclement weather. A minor detour could actually wind up saving you major time.
  8. Use a smartphone app such as Waze or Google Maps to guide you around traffic jams.
  9. Not even a GPS app is infallible, especially in remote areas, so we recommend bringing a detailed map or road atlas as a backup just in case.
  10. If you are driving a rental vehicle, familiarize yourself with the car and all of its equipment (horn, brakes, hazard lights). For an amusing but true look at this issue, see The First 10 Minutes of Your Car Rental.