The summer driving season is back, and with gas prices expected to be the lowest they’ve been in six years, this may be the summer for a family road trip. But before you hit the highway, make sure your vehicle is well prepared. Here’s some advice to help you and your loved ones stay safe, save money, and have fun on the road this summer.

Make sure your vehicle is up for the trip. The last thing you want to happen on a long-distance road trip is to breakdown and be left stranded. A few weeks before your departure, bring your car to a mechanic and have them check the following:

  • Make sure the brake system is in good condition and working properly
  • Ensure battery connections are clean, tight and corrosion-free
  • Check all filters and fluids, including engine oil, power steering, brake and transmission, as well as windshield washer solvent and antifreeze/coolant.
  • Check hoses and belts that can become brittle and crack. They are critical to the proper functioning of the electrical system, cooling system/AC, and power steering.
  • Check tire pressure and tread, and check for bulges and bald spots.
  • Make sure the gas cap is not damaged, loose or missing to prevent gas from spilling or evaporating.

Get creative and don’t follow the crowd. If you’re just looking to get away, but don’t have a specific destination in mind, think about where most people go during the summer months, then plan to go somewhere that’s less crowded and cheaper.

According to Concur’s travel study, “Spend Trend: Where Business Travelers Spend Money,” the most expensive U.S. city for business travel, based on the average cost for car rental, dining, entertainment, ground transportation and lodging was Santa Clara, California, followed by New York City, San Francisco and Boston.

Take time to pack well. Start packing early so you’re not rushed the night before your trip. Pack the vehicle the night before — preferably in daylight — so you can get an early start in the morning. Keep a bag and/or cooler of snacks and water up front where you can conveniently reach and access it. Check the weather for your area, but also for where you’ll be driving. Program your destination address into your GPS, and print out a hard copy of the directions in case your GPS has a technical glitch, and stops working.

Pack and eat healthy snacks. It’s way too easy to eat junk when you travel — all that fast food! Make the smart decision and pack yourself some healthy treats for when you are on-the-go. To cool down and get hydrated, watermelon and cucumbers are good choices. Oranges have plenty of vitamin C and their smell is a proven to lift moods — great for relieving the stress of highway traffic. The summer is peak season for favorite natural energy boosters such as cherries and blueberries.

Leave early to avoid the rush. It may not be fun waking the family at 4:00 am, but it will be worth it to get on the road before everyone else does. Plan your leave time strategically so you’re out of the metropolitan area before the morning rush hour starts clogging up the roads. If you need to stop and spend the night at a hotel, pull off the road around 4:00 pm before the evening rush, eat a healthy dinner, get a good night’s sleep, then leave before sunrise again.

Lastly, stay hydrated. Drinking enough water is always important, even more so when traveling. In the summer, buy and carry liter bottles of water and try to drink 3 to 4 liters per day. It may cause increased pit stops, but staying hydrated helps prevent fatigue, and also keeps your body functioning properly through changes in climate and diet.

Remember, if you’re traveling in the New York Tri-State area or staying local in Connecticut, you can leave the driving to us and trust Hoyt Livery to get your family there and back safely.