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Filed under: Preparation & Readiness, Safety on the Road, Traveling Tips

Five Easy Tips for Safety on the Road

August 15, 2010 by · 6 Comments 


On our summer road trip this year, we dealt with some safety issues and had to face the possibility of needing to end our trip early. While no one likes to think about that possibility, there are occasions when it becomes the only safe alternative. Luckily we were able to continue on our journey, but we had laid some groundwork for being able to make that decision ahead of time. While most of these ideas amount to simple common sense, I would like to share these with you as they may not be something you will have thought about, especially if you are new to road/camping trips or have been lucky enough to avoid safety concerns on previous journeys.

Durango with camper attached1) Stay well within your tow/load limits. When purchasing our camper, we checked out the approved tow load for our Dodge Durango and made sure to purchase a camper that was well below the load limit. Pay attention to what your camper will weigh fully loaded with food, water and clothing as well; most dealers will be able to provide this information for you.

2) Have your tow vehicle (and your trailer) checked out before your trip. In spite of our careful planning, and the fact that our Durango should be easily able to pull our fully loaded 18’ Trail-Lite camper, we had some trouble last year with the Durango overheating while traveling in the mountains. In anticipation of our trip this year, Terry took it in to our favorite Dodge dealer, explained the issues we were having it and had them give it a complete check up. While it cost a nominal amount of money to have this done, the peace of mind was well worth it.

3) Travel at a slower speed than if you were not towing. I can hear the “Duh!” from you experienced RV travelers, but many of us move from tent camping to towing a trailer or camper and this necessary change is not immediately apparent. The lesson that your travel speed while towing your sleeping quarters must be slower than when your tent and sleeping bags are handily packed inside your vehicle took us some time to learn. Additionally your estimates of how many miles you can (or want to) cover in a day must change. Make sure both the driver and the navigator/planner are on the same page with this change. It took us a couple of years to get to the point where our estimates are accurate and reasonable when traveling with our camper.

Trail-Lite Camper4) Travel with a GPS or cell phone with internet/GPS access if at all possible. In spite of your best preparations, you may still encounter a problem on the road. This year, our Durango began to struggle while towing the camper through the cornfields of Iowa. Granted the temperature was 100 degrees outside and the seemingly flat terrain of Iowa is simply very long uphills and downhills; the incline is often so slight that you don’t realize you are even ascending. When we began to notice our vehicle getting dangerously close to overheating, I was at least able to pull out my Blackberry and search for Dodge dealers in eastern Nebraska and get driving directions to the one closest to our route. A very helpful service!

5) If all else fails, do not hesitate to make the decision to stop. Both Terry and I were prepared to stop before we reached the campground where our reserved site was located, or to make the decision to end the trip and head home if necessary. This is probably a discussion you want to have before you leave home, as there are many things that can occur on a road trip that can make stopping the best decision for a traveler.  As it turned out, we reduced our speed even further, pulled over when the temperature got too high to let it cool down and re-routed our trip over four-lane state highways rather than interstates to make it easier to travel at a slower speed. These changes prevented our vehicle from overheating. We did finally arrive at our first destination, albeit a bit later than predicted, and the remainder of our trip proceeded without incident.

While there is great excitement in over-the-road travel, there is an element of danger as well. It is better to be safe, and make it home alive and healthy, than to push on and have life-changing repercussions occur. Safe travels!

For more tips about traveling safely, check out Woodalls for a wide variety of travel and camping articles.


6 Responses to “Five Easy Tips for Safety on the Road”
  1. Family Tent says:

    Great article! The importance of safety while camping is so important. Check out this tent, not only is it a great price but the roof pitch helps water from pooling on the top of the tent: Its so important especially for those mid-summer rains!

  2. Art says:

    It is indeed that safety is the top priority to prevent accidents on the road. We needed to be prepared for the worst all the time.I agree with you, I always make sure that our tow vehicle was check before our trip. Especially when we go camping with the kids.

  3. June Morrissey says:

    All good ideas. While traveling this summer on I-40 between Memphis and Nashville we had a tire blow on the curb site of our 34 ft 5th wheel. The only way we knew this was the husband saw smoke in the right mirror.His commet to me was “were’re on fire”. Not words you want to hear! After pulling over on the shoulder of the highway we discovered it was the front of the two tires. We put out our big emergency reflector behind us but the traffic was stilling coming very close and very fast.. We learned that the best thing to do is to get on your cell phone and call the State Highway Patrol! A Tenn officer arrived very quickly and sat behind us with his lights on for over an hour while we waited for help in the way of a wrecker service to change the tire. The officer told us that they have a “rotation list” of wreckers and that when the officer calls a wrecker they come much faster than any road service, aka AAA or Good Sam. He approved of the wrecker that we found by using Google on our little laptop. We entered the nearest town and found a phone number for a local road service which we called from our cell. This was all in broad daylight. I would hate to have an emergency at night although we do carry two sets of flares. Just remember, you don’t have to have an accident to call the highway patrol. They are there to help in an unsafe situation also.

  4. Campgrounder says:

    Great Tips, however, it’s time someone writes an article about people that CAMP at Walmart. there are Yahoo news groups that provide information on Walmarts that allow camping in their parking lots and people actually plan their entire trip based on camping in Walmart parking lots. This practice is driving up prices in campgrounds because people are not staying at campgrounds when they travel. Maybe someone could come up with a solution on how to better manager this major issue that would benefit all. RVers, & Campground owners all need to benefit.

    Spending $40 to park for an overnight is outrageous but I do it because I know for the most part I and my family should be safe, whereas camping in a Walmart Parking lot provides no safety at all and encourages others to do the same. It’s just not a good practice, it hurts the camping industry more then people know.

  5. In response to Campgrounder’s concerns about parking in Walmart’s parking lot at night. We went on a month-long road trip from Florida to the Northwest. It was our first long trip in our RV. There were several times when we miscalculated our time spent in various towns and on the road. We knew that we could park in the WM parking lot for a short period of time so that we could rest before moving on. We were gratefull to know that we had what we felt was a safe area in a large lighted parking lot to stop for a few hours. There were always several eighteen wheelers and other RV’rs parked there also. We didn’t stay there to save $40. We stayed because it was too dangerous for us to travel any further and it didn’t make sense to try and find an RV campsite to stay at for only a few hours. We’ve always made a point of moving on early so as not to take up parking space at WM. We are happy to know that WM is conscience of the need for travelers in large trucks and RV’s may need to rest for a few hours and they have the room to allow us to pull in and rest for awhile.

  6. A must for safe travel with a trailer is a tire pressure monitor system. I put a Tyredog system on my Dunesport toyhauler and it payed off when I had a slow leak in the right rear tire that could have resulted in a bad ending to a good trip. The Tiredog will monitor the actual pressure and the temperature of each tire using a wireless system. The best part it can be purchased on the internet for about $150.00, this is about the same price a tire minus the bad experience. It takes all of 5-10 minuets to install.

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