“Long Road Trip” print by Donna McKenzie
By the time you read this, I’ll be back from my annual mini-vacation to rural Saskatchewan; back to the world of traffic and computers; back to waking to an alarm-clock instead of the call and answer of the owls. I don’t know how long I’ll stick around, though; I spend most summers gripped by wanderlust and have already started planning our next adventure. For the next three weeks my articles will all be road-trip related and full of tips to keep your travels economical and eco-friendly. So, buckle your seatbelts and get ready to hit the (green) highway!
Before you set off, take the time to get your vehicle in good shape. Not only will you have a safer journey, you’ll save gas AND money! Ensure your engine is properly tuned and maintained, check your oil, spark plugs, oxygen sensors, air filters, hoses and belts, and make any necessary repairs and adjustments before embarking on your adventure. Be sure, as well, to have your wheels aligned and keep your tires properly inflated; low tire pressure is not only a safety hazard, it wastes gasoline. Fact: you can actually increase your car’s gas mileage by over 3% just by properly inflating the tires! (See your owner’s manual for your vehicle’s recommended tire-inflation.) Upcycled Volvo spark plug keychain, pictured above, by Brown Dog Welding.
Setting off into unknown territory can turn any journey into an adventure. Getting lost, however, can take the fun out of the trip as soon as you realize that you are going many, many kilometres out of your way. A satellite navigation system is a great way to stay on-course, but I have heard many stories of GPS units directing drivers into cornfields and up long-abandoned roads, so pack “old fashioned” maps just in case. The wood and upcycled map bangle bracelets, pictured above, were made by San Francisco’s Squishy Sushi.
In order to avoid wasting precious gas and time, try to plan your route well in advance. There are a number of web-based trip planners that you can use to make the most of your journey. I like http://www.freetrip.com/ and good ol’ Google Maps. Or, if you are a member of an auto club, you can let them do your planning for you! AAA and CAA also provide their members with free maps and travel guides. Are we there yet? Repurposed plastic and map luggage tags, pictured above, by Marmalime.
In addition to planning your routes, pre-planning your stops can help keep everyone in the car happy-go-lucky, too. Being spontaneous is fun, yes, but have you ever driven an extra-hour for an impromptu treat and arrived only to find that a much-hyped ice-cream shop is inexplicably closed? Trust me; it’s an instant joy-kill. It’s also a good idea to call ahead to your destinations to check operating hours, etc. Check out the fun and guaranteed melt-free, upcycled wood neopolitan “ice cream treats” by Rekindled Cottage, pictured above.
Next week: we head out on the highway!