When you picture a road trip, nothing negative comes to mind. You’re on the open road with the wind blowing through your hair and the tunes blasting out through the speaker. Road trip, baby! Thinking about everything which can go wrong is fruitless. What’s the point in fretting over something which might or might not happen further down the road?
The thing is, it’s not rare for things to pop-up and ruin the experience. All of a sudden, your dream turns into a nightmare as you’re up a proverbial creek without a paddle. While meticulous planning is not an option – you want some freedom – it is wise to consider the pitfalls which will put the brakes on the entire trip.
At least that way you can avoid any nasty and unnecessary surprises. With that in mind, here are four things that aren’t uncommon and how to fix them.
A Driving Record
Let’s face facts – every motorist has done things they aren’t proud of. For the most part, you try and put them behind you and attempt to be a better person. Of course, there are a few black marks on your file which don’t go away. Driving under the influence is one of them because it’s a criminal offense.
If you got a DUI, the last thing on your mind at the time would be a rental. The potential fine and jail time were more pressing matters. Unfortunately, even a slap on the wrists might bring a halt to the journey before you’ve started. Although it’s not impossible to lease a vehicle with a DUI, it’s a lot tougher than in the past.
The rental company might perform a background check of your license and make a judgment call. They don’t want to lose out due to your indiscretions. Your options are to be upfront and to sign a disclaimer form if they demand one. A tip: Enterprise doesn’t check the DMV database and only require a valid license.
The Gas Tank
It’s empty and needs filling up. Worse, you’ve been to the gas station and now it’s making a funny noise. Wait a minute – did you use petrol or diesel? Whoops. Sometimes, the car company won’t tell you what type of gas it uses and that’s a problem. You can make a gut choice, but get it wrong and you’ll have to pay up.
Although it’s an obvious fix, be sure to ask about the tank before leaving. Another important factor is the return policy. Lots of rentals have a full-to-full rule where they provide a full tank of gas and you have to return it in the same condition. This is more serious than it sounds as thriftier road trippers like to calculate the costs to stay on budget.
One option is to pick a car with a full-to-empty plan.
Crashes are pretty common around the world with over six million of them in the US per year on average. Usually, you’re not bothered about an accident as you feel in control behind the wheel. However, this trip, you’re jacked up on adrenaline. Plus, it’s a different model than you drive back home and need to get used to the controls.
The thing you can control is yourself, so stick to the basics. Drive to the speed limit and never lose focus. If you get tired, pull over and switch. That’s one of the perks of having a car full of designated drivers.
Also, always make sure the navigator does their job properly. Because you’re not used to the roads, they should give you detailed instructions. Even if it’s a simple “take the next left,” it lets you concentrate on the most important thing: driving.
No Cell Reception
The point of the trip is to get away from life for a while. You don’t need cell phone reception – it needs you! Except, you need it in case something goes wrong. It’s always nice to have a backup should you get lost or run out of gas in the middle of nowhere.
Speaking of directions, your satellite navigation system might use the internet. Lots of tech-savvy road trippers use a phone and Google Maps combo because it’s easy. Therefore, you’re going to need cell reception to stay on the right track.
You might not think you can mess with Mother Nature, but a signal booster does just that. Alternatively, bring a retro sat nav like a Tom-Tom to pick up the slack if your cell fails.
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