Road trips are fun.

Whether spontaneous or meticulously planned, the time spent on the road provides a chance for some introspection and quality time. Taken with either family, friends, or by yourself, coasting the highways offers a slice of adventure peppered with excitement and freedom.

To make the most out of your road trip, you must bear in mind a number of things. Here are some tips to make your joyride efficient, safe and more enjoyable:

1. Map out your trip

Quite literally, plan out your route and check the most efficient way to arrive at your destination. Make use of your car’s navigation system or install apps that will make your life less complicated. This way, you can avoid busy roads and efficiently budget your travel time, including necessary pit stops. Using a GPS or ELD can also help you keep on track and budget.

2. Check your car

This is one of the most important, but often overlooked, parts of a road trip. Your car is your travel buddy so you don’t want it breaking down in the middle of nowhere.

To avoid car catastrophes on the road, pay a visit to your car’s service center or trusted mechanic before your trip. Some important items for checking should include:

Preventive Maintenance Service (PMS)

This is essential in checking your car’s overall health. Most (if not all) of the top bearing companies equip cars to be compatible with the latest diagnostic tools for easier examination. With today’s sophisticated technology, vehicle diagnostics are faster and more efficient.

Don’t knock off the noises that you hear, either. Sometimes, those odd sounds may be caused by loose brake pads, stuck calipers, wheel bearing failure, or worn bushings, among others. Schedule a date with your service center to check for wear and tear concerns or repairs.

Tires

Optimize your tires for better road performance. Check for cracks, cuts, splits or bruises in the tread or sidewall areas. Also, have the wheels’ balance or alignment examined. If possible, opt for eco-friendly tire pressure as this will help reduce your fuel consumption.

Brakes

Brake problems are the last thing you want if you’re traveling. Brake fluid and brake pads need to be inspected so you won’t run into unsafe trip situations.

Also, check other items such as your vehicle documents, car battery, jumper cables, spare tire and car tools.

3. Drive responsibly

It is only common courtesy to observe traffic rules and regulations. Other drivers may not be courteous but it doesn’t give you the license to act the same. Be a good example and follow road signs. Lastly, always allow sufficient room between you and the car in front. This will give you enough reaction time in case of sudden stops or accidents.

Do not drink and drive or use prohibited substances. If you must take medication that might impair your driving, take turns with your companion. If you are alone and you need to take a break, schedule a stop to allow you time to recover.

Only use your phone when it is safe. Even if your car has a hands-free phone feature, it is still best to keep your focus on the road. The same goes for in-car movies or other items that may cause you to be distracted. The driver’s responsibility is primarily the safe operation of the vehicle, so you must pay attention to road safety.

4. Travel smart

Be prepared for any eventuality. Pack first aid and emergency kits for both you and your car. Do not forget to stash some healthy snacks to ward off hunger (which can also affect your driving capabilities) and remember to bring water. Keep yourself hydrated to be more alert on the road.

Stay away from sugary snacks and drinks because they can cause you to “crash and burn.” This means you’ll get a quick burst of energy but you’ll lose it as quickly as it came in.

Also, tissues and disposable wipes are your friends, so keep them close by.

5. Stay alert, awake and enthusiastic

One of the main causes of traffic accidents is driver distraction. Being on the road for long hours and especially at night can cause drivers to be drowsy. Stay alert by making efficient stops and being attuned to your body cues. Are you too sleepy to drive?

Pull over at a rest stop. If you’ve planned well and have anticipated driving into the night, an overnight stay at a hotel in between destinations can be an option.

Also, consider the driving conditions. Is the road too wet or slick with snow? Are you too hot or too cold? This is not the time to be a daredevil. You want to arrive at your destination in one piece so leave the car racing at the tracks and drive with caution.

6. Be present

Finally, it might seem silly to remind you to be present, but there are times when people just fail to savor the moment. Vacations are wasted because some fail to understand that holidays are an opportunity for you to connect with yourself or with family.

So, leave the work worries behind. Refrain from checking your business e-mails. Take time to gaze out of the window and marvel at the beauty of the countryside. Roll down your windows and breathe in that salty sea breeze.

There’s nothing more amazing than to live and be in the present. Take in the scenery, kick back, and enjoy the road ahead.