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4 pit stops worth planning ahead

When planning to move long distances, you'll no doubt need to decide on your route and sleeping accommodations along the way. Here are some tips for anticipating unplanned pit stops.

The car is loaded with all of your family's personal belongings, the gas tank is full, and you know exactly where you're going, how long it's going to take and - if you're headed cross country - where you're going to spend the night. If you match this description, you're already well on your way to a smooth trip and and a great start to a new beginning. However, before moving, you may want to make a few additions to your to-do list. When taking a long drive, you may come across traffic delays, unexpected detours and inevitable pit stops. Because of this, it can make your big move a lot more comfortable if you looking up the location of some important roadside destinations.

Bathrooms for emergencies

Unless you enforce a strict policy of no liquids in your car, chances are you're going to have to make a few bathroom stops along your drive. Some people prefer to begin the search for a rest stop only after someone announces that they have to go, but this can be a bad strategy if there's an emergency. While major roads are usually lined with plenty of restaurants and public rest stops, it's best not to test the limits of roadside development.

When you're planning your route, make a note in your directions of public rest stops along the way, highlighting convenient break points every hour or so. While not everyone will have to go at every marked location you pass, you'll at least know where to find them and can give passengers an estimate in terms of time until the next stop. More importantly, it gives you a better understanding of those stretches of road where there aren't bathrooms.

Some drivers may feel that mapping out regular bathroom breaks is a blatant example of micro-planning and a waste of planning efforts. However, there is another reason why you'll want to plan regular stopping intervals, and it's a matter of safety

Rest stops for driver fatigue

Drowsy driving is a dangerous issue in the U.S., with sleepy drivers playing a part in an estimated 2.5 percent of fatal crashes and 2 percent of injury crashes, as reported by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that as many as 5,000 or 6,000 fatal crashes each year may be caused by tired drivers. Sleep is key to combating driver fatigue, however, there are also hours where the body is naturally drowsy. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, the most likely times for drivers to experience tiredness are between 12 a.m. and 6 a.m. and again between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m.

While coffee may keep drivers awake for a short period of time, the DOT warns against relying on caffeine as a means of staying alert. Rather, it's better that drowsy drivers pull over and take a nap or switch who's behind the wheel. Locating rest stops before driving can make for a safer trip as well as take care of bathroom needs, thereby eliminating two birds with one stone. 

Restaurants for hunger

If you've ever taken a road trip with friends or family, then you probably know how frustrating it can be trying to pick a restaurant for dinner when everyone is hungry and tired. Moving is already stressful, and there's no need to add this decision to the process. Sit down with your family before moving with a list of convenient restaurants along the way. Let everyone voice their opinions then, instead of on the road as you're passing the last food exit for the next 60 miles. 

Hotels for backup

When you're planning to move over the course of a few days, you've probably already picked out your sleeping accommodations. However, you'll want to make note of potential city stops a couple of hours before those destinations, should you come across unexpected traffic delays or incidents that force you to seek alternative sleeping arrangements. You don't have to book anything - just be aware of convenient alternatives.

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