Want to stay healthy and safe on summer road trips? Learn more.
Want to stay healthy and safe on summer road trips? Learn more.

10 Rules for Road Trips

Summer is the time for family vacations, reunions, outings to state parks across Arkansas and road trips across the country.
“Being stuck in a car for hours can be a nightmare, or it can be a fun experience full of happy memories,” said Dr. Amy Phillips, one of our OB/GYN doctors at UAMS. “Being prepared is the key to a successful road trip. From getting your car’s engine ready to mapping out the best route to your destination, we’ve got a 10-point checklist that will help ensure your trip doesn’t become “that” one that you talk about for years to come."
“Enjoy your time together in the car, and remember to take time to enjoy the scenery along the way.”

10. Nothing to sneeze at.

If you have pollen, mold or dust allergies, make sure the air in your car is clean by opening the windows and running the air conditioner for about 10 minutes before you get inside. This helps get rid of any dust mites and mold spores that have built up in the air conditioning system.  When you are on the road, keep all the windows closed to keep pollen out. It’s also helpful to use the recirculate feature of your air conditioner to minimize the amount of pollen brought into the car.

9. “I don’t feel so good . . .”

Motion sickness can strike in cars, boats, planes, trains or any situation with movement. To help prevent motion sickness in the car, use these tips:
  • Watch what you eat and drink before you travel. Avoid foods that make you feel full, and skip heavy, spicy and fatty foods.
  • Sit in the front seat of the car.
  • Do not read while riding in a car.
  • Keep the car cool.
  • Take over-the-counter medicine such as Dramamine. Your doctor can also prescribe stronger medication, such as a patch containing scopolamine.

8. Oh no -- Cankles!

When it’s hot and humid outside, it’s easy to get swollen feet and ankles after a long car ride. To help avoid swelling, use these tips:
  • Wear loose-fitting, comfortable clothes.
  • Wear shoes that you can easily take off, and rub your feet vigorously during driving breaks to promote circulation.
  • Exercise your feet and legs – shake your legs, rotate your ankles, flex your feet and toes.
  • Drink lots of water. Limit salty snacks.
Deep vein thrombosis (DVT), or blood clots, are rare, but can be a serious result of prolonged sitting. Those at a higher risk for DVT are those who are overweight, over 40, have had surgery in the past three months, use birth control with estrogen (birth control pills and patches), have a history of blood clots, are in or recently completed treatment for cancer and those with varicose veins. DVT usually occurs in the arm or leg, and about half of the people affected have no symptoms. If you experience severe swelling of your leg or arm, unexplained pain or tenderness, skin that is warm to the touch or redness of the skin, call your doctor as soon as possible.

7. Be prepared.

Make sure your car is ready for the trip. Check the oil, the tires, the A/C, the brakes – and don’t forget the windshield wiper fluid!
If you’re traveling with kids, also make sure your car seats are installed correctly. As your kids grow, it’s important to check to make sure your car seat is the correct size and installed correctly. You can call a car seat technician at UAMS at 501-364-2478 to schedule a free check-up. Or check one of the 30 locations across Arkansas that offer this service. You can also call 866-SEAT-CHECK to find a location for a free safety seat inspection.
If you are using a rental car and traveling with kids, check to make sure the child safety locks are on and the windows are locked from passenger use. Place large objects such as strollers and suitcases in the trunk. If you must put large items in the passenger area, tie them down securely so they don’t become flying objects that can hurt you or other passengers in a crash.

6. Know where you’re going.

Take a few minutes before you leave the driveway or your parking spot to enter your destination in your map app and familiarize yourself with the route. Make sure the volume is high enough to hear the directions. Get prepared for any upcoming toll roads. Newer navigational apps such as Waze use user input to find the fastest route, taking into account construction, accidents, traffic and other impediments between you and your destination.
If you’re visiting a larger city and will need parking near a major attraction, find and reserve a spot with an app such as ParkingPanda. This app provides service to more than 40 U.S. cities, including Dallas, St. Louis, New Orleans and Atlanta. Designate a passenger as your navigator to make sure you stay on course with directions. This is a great job for young teens as they begin to prepare for driving on their own.

5. Keep ‘em entertained.

Stock up on books on tape, music, DVDs, craft projects and other entertainment to keep small passengers occupied. Your local library probably has an extensive collection of books, music and movies you can check out for free. Redbox offers affordable movie rentals that you can pick up at one location and return two hours down the road, or whenever and wherever convenient.

4. Get charged up.

Keep your electronics charged with a USB car charger. And, don’t forget the cables. Keep a phone charging at all times when you’re driving so you’ll be sure to have power when you’re away from your car. Navigating apps can drain your battery. Also, your phone has to keep changing cell towers to find the nearest one, which drains the battery even more.
If your battery is running low, take these measures to save power:
  • Turn off all push notifications and location services
  • Restart you phone to kill all the apps that are running
  • Lower the brightness on your screen
  • Send text messages instead of making phone calls
Another tip: take the cables inside with you when you reach your destination. It’s no fun to have to go back to the car when you’re all settled in and ready for a good night’s sleep in your hotel room.

3. Just in case . . .

Pack an emergency supply kit with a first aid kit, water, flashlight, cell phone charger, jumper cables and a blanket or towel. Keep all the items together in a small duffle bag or milk crate in your trunk so things are handy when you need them. If your family has allergies, be sure to include antihistamine lotion and tablets in your first aid kit and replace them when they expire. It’s also a good idea to keep an umbrella and a light rain jacket or poncho too.

2. Make every stop count.

Combine bathroom stops with food stops and gas stops. Everyone in the car has to go to the bathroom. Every time. Everyone has to stretch their legs. Every time. Everyone doesn’t have to eat something, but selecting a healthy snack from the fruits and snacks you packed in the car to eat before the next stop might not be a bad idea. Wake the kids up, get them moving, then let them go back to sleep – but let infants stay asleep.

1. The number one rule of road trips:

Eyes on the road, hands on the wheel. All the time. Period.
While we hope you don’t need these services, UAMS is the home of the state’s only adult level 1 trauma center.

To learn more, please visit the UAMS Health Library
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