Health & Family

7 tips for a better road trip

**FILE** Lucy the Elephant, a six-story oddity that was built by a real estate developer in 1881 in the hopes that it somehow would attract property buyers to this Atlantic City suburb, of Margate, N.J.,
**FILE** Lucy the Elephant, a six-story oddity that was built by a real estate developer in 1881 in the hopes that it somehow would attract property buyers to this Atlantic City suburb, of Margate, N.J., AP

As we head deep into the holiday road trip season, some trips to make your travels a little smoother, courtesy of Valarie D’Elia, who operates the Travel With Val website.

1. Use specific apps that are helpful when motoring. “With www.roadtrippers.com, you can plug in your route and it will show you options nearby that are viable tourist attractions.”

Another is www.roadsideamerica.com. “It’s fun for kids because it shows quirky attractions, like Lucy the Elephant, in Margate City, N.J. It’s a big roadside attraction that has been around for years.

“These roadside attractions are fun. They keep kids occupied and give everyone a chance to get out of the car.” You can also use apps to look ahead for playgrounds that can be rest stop options.

2. “Some roads – like the Blue Ridge Parkway – are tourist destinations in their own right, not just a road to your getaway. Go to the All-American Roads and National Scenic Byways site to find out where they are.”

3. Be mindful of road rage, which she says “is epidemic anywhere because people are texting or phoning while driving. Besides being dangerous, people get angry if they see you doing that when you drive. Instead, pull over at rest stops if you need to talk or text.”

4. Take advantage of car rental options. “When I rent a car, there can be new cars at the lot that still have three months free of Sirius radio. I like Sirius and I try to get one of those vehicles. That can be kind of a wild card, but see if you can get one that has free Sirius.”

5. Don’t overpay for gas. “This is a pet peeve, and happened to me in Florida. I went from two bucks a gallon in St. Pete to $4 near the Orlando airport. If I wasn’t in a hurry, I could have searched for a better price. First, don’t be in a hurry if you know you need gas. Second, use an app like www.gasbuddy.com to find where there’s a better price for gas where you are or where you’re heading.”

6. Make sure you have power source in your car – “like a dashboard lighter plug you can use to rev up your phone. Or a USB port you can use for recharging. Or bring a spare portable battery: I get power packs, so I can keep my GPS active. Sure, many cars come with GPS, but I’d rather use the GPS that’s on my phone.”

7. Traveling with kids or grandkids? Have an iPad? “In the car you can do the traditional spot-the-license-plate game and stuff like that, but most parents say that if you want peace, get the kids videos.

“Now there are iPad mounts that attack to the back of the front-seat headrests. You just flip them so they point to the backseat where the kids are. Insert the iPad and they can watch a movie or whatever. They can’t touch the iPad when they’re buckled in, and they can listen on headphones.”

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