Thursday, June 22, 2006
Everytime you turn on the news you hear about a violent crime. No wonder so many single mothers are hesitant to travel alone with their children. They fear for their safety.
I'm a single mom. Yet I love to take long road trips across the United States with my son. And having traveled so often over the past few years, I've developed a few safety tips that my son and I always follow. If you're a single mom, these tips should work for you and your family, too. Here they are:
JOIN AN AUTO CLUB
Prior to leaving on your trip, join an auto club. Get on line and type in "Auto Clubs" at a good search engine, like www.google.com, to find one.
Auto Club memberships offer tow service, gas delivery, jump starts, and assistance with mechanical problems, plus other services a single mom on the road might need. Also, many auto clubs have discount agreements with hotels and will send you free maps and vacation brochures.
HAVE YOUR CAR SERVICED
Before you pull out of the driveway and onto the highway, make sure your car is in good working order. Take your car to a reputable auto service station. Have your oil and air filter changed. You will get better gas mileage. While you're there, have them check your windshield wiper fluid and the freon level in your air conditioner. Check the air pressure in your tires. Make sure your tires are in good shape and the treads aren't worn.
Make sure all your car door locks work. Also, because you don't want to advertise that you're traveling alone with your children, think about having your windows tinted for privacy, if they aren't already. Window tinting for an average size SUV will cost about $200.00 dollars.
DON'T TRAVEL WITH LARGE AMOUNTS OF CASH
Instead of bringing large amounts of cash with you, always pay for gas, hotel rooms, and souvenirs with a credit card and get a receipt. Keep your receipts and check them against your monthly statement. It's good to take at least two credit cards, in case one credit card company doesn't approve a purchase, Many times, for your protection, your credit card company will deny a purchase if you try to use the card outside of the area where you usually make purchases.
Carry cash for small purchases. Buy travelers' checks for backup cash. However, be prepared to pay a fee for cashing them at a bank.
PACK YOUR CAR FOR SAFETY
Make sure to take your cell phone and its charger. Call family members periodically. Let them know your itinerary, where you are each day, and which hotels you are staying in. Collect all your state maps, your US almanac and vacation brochures and store them in a canvas bag for easy access. Even if your car has ON-Star capability, have maps for a backup.
Purchase a small portable air bubble and jump pack. An air bubble holds about 120lbs. of air. If you have a flat and are unable to get help, hopefully your tire will hold air long enough to limp into the next town. The jump pack will come in handy should your car battery die. Just remember to charge it before you leave home. If you're traveling during the winter months, it's good to pack a flashlight, candles, blankets and a first aid kit.
PACK YOUR CAR FOR COMFORT
Inevitably you will end up eating in your car. Pack baby wipes and trash bags to keep your car clean. Pack snacks and water and plastic bins for souvenirs. A clean, organized car is much more pleasant for traveling. It's also safer since you won't be rummaging around trying to find something while your driving.
PACK YOUR CAR FOR FUN AND ENTERTAINMENT
Take along CDs, books on tape, crayons, coloring books, and activity books to keep the kids entertained so you can give your full attention to driving.
MAKE YOUR HOTEL STAY SAFE
Stay at hotels where your door does not lead directly to the outside. Most hotels now require a room key to access the hotel from exterior doors.
Every evening, check the weather conditions along your driving route. Join a hotel points program. They will give you phone numbers and the location of their hotels at your next destination. Many give discounts on room rates and you can earn points towards a free stay.
Don't take back roads. Always stay on main highways. Go to gas stations that are busy. Watch your surroundings as you drive along and be aware of cars behind you. If someone stops you, make sure they are authorized to do so. Of course, never leave your car and get in a stranger's car, for any reason.
TEACH YOUR CHILDREN TO BE SAFE
Before you leave on your trip, teach or review with your children how to be safe around strangers. DANGER STRANGER! Never let your small children go into a rest stop restroom alone. Always escort them.
Buy a can of mace to keep in your car, and don't be afraid to use it if you must. Anyone's car can break down in the middle of nowhere. Be prepared if you find yourself in a seemingly dangerous location.
You may think of other safety tips for yourself and your children. The point is, make safety a part of planning a road trip with your kids, then get out there and see the country! There's no reason to hesitate.