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 Planning and Having a Safe Road Trip        contributed by Aaron Schulman

Nothing beats spending your vacation with your family. The first things that parents should do when traveling with their children is prepare a checklist of things to bring to ensure a successful family trip. Whether you are using up vacation timeshares, or camping in a park wilderness, it's better to go the extra mile to prepare. Worrying about what can go wrong on your family vacation is the last thing you should be doing. Preparing and being ready is the best solution for that. The following are some tips to help you prepare for your next, safe road trip:

  1. Before leaving for your destination, check your car and make sure that it is well-maintained. If possible, take the car to a mechanic to have an overall checkup. If you travel during winter, take precautions and bring extra items such as food, water, blanket and a flashlight in case of emergencies. During summer, have the air conditioning inspected; no one wants to be in a road trip while feeling too much heat from the sun during the drive.

  1. Planning the driving route has never been easier in this day and age. Before, people who went on road trips had to buy a printed map from a bookstore, but now all you have to do is go to Google Maps (or an alternate map engine) and print out your route. If you and your family are a group of adventurous travelers, a GPS navigation system should be included in your car in case you want to take alternate excursions and / or can't find the way to your destination. Also, some organizations offer free or discounted travel planning as part of their vacation club membership. Research different options while planning your vacation to see what the costs and benefits are.

  1. Whenever the driver needs a break, take a break. Accidents can happen when a person is distracted or drowsy while driving. Let the driver get some rest by pulling over for a few hours or swapping with another person who is a responsible and legal driver. If the weather is bad, wait for the storm to abate instead of risking a serious accident.

  1. Texting or making calls while driving should be avoided, since this can result in road mishaps. A driver should always be focused on the road and be alert at all times. If itís absolutely necessary, one of the passengers can take the call or compose the text message.

  1. If you're renting a car, make sure it's a model you can travel comfortably in. Research about the automobileís safety features and be aware of its limits.

  1. If you have a pet that you want to tag along, find the best way to make the travel simpler for them. Travel sickness is common for some pets. Ask the veterinarian about what should be done in terms of accommodations and possible medications.

  1. Call up your credit card company and inform them that you will be out of town. This would ensure that your purchases won't be considered suspicious activity. A lot of people have this happen to them and it causes unexpected delays and embarrassing situations. In more extreme cases it could halt your trip due to a halt on your funds.

  1. Bring a first-aid kit with you at all times. Youíll never know when you or your fellow travelers can get bruises or cuts. This can be taken care of with the right supplies.

  1. Drive in areas that are well-lit and always be alert about what goes on in your surroundings. Stay away from people or places that seem suspicious and always stay in well-lit, well-populated areas. Also, be sure to know which ends of the town to avoid. Locals will know far more about this than foreigners, but be sure to ask trusted locals.

  1. Take a list of emergency numbers with you just in case there are any mishaps along the way. Take note of local emergency numbers in the place youíre traveling to and include 911 and poison control (where applicable). Doing this will save you lots of time when an emergency happens.

Following the necessary precautions when on a road trip will ensure a fun-filled vacation for you and your family. It always pays to be a little extra careful; otherwise you might be in for a disaster. Also, use this guide as a starter. Add to it and do a little more research to suit your specific needs.

The contributor, Aaron Schulman enjoys spending time with his wife and 3 girls, traveling on family trips, web development, publishing, writing, cooking, jazz and guitar music. He also writes guitar reviews and is an avid guitar player. He recently shared a review on the Baby Taylor Guitar, a great small guitar for the family traveler and guitar enthusiast.

 
 Schedule
The schedule is dependent on finances, family responsibilities, and interests. We are fortunate to have healthy parents, no kids (yet), and sufficient budget to travel many years. The biggest factor was our level of interest in each region of the world. We started by listing the places we wanted to see, gathering information from other world travel internet sites, book stores, and our most worldly friends (thank you Ranald and Mindy). We prioritized each place and researched the best times to visit each country, considering temperature and precipitation. By the time we analyzed routes logistically and debated what to short list, we dropped 15 countries and scheduled about two years. Our most important decision is to keep the schedule flexible with some caveats: be in Nepal during clear weather (April or October), avoid arid countries like Iran and Jordan in August, be in New Zealand and Chile during their summer months. All experienced long term travelers warn that schedules will change; we may stay longer, leave earlier, meet someone, learn new information, get sick, etc. The fundamental decision to stay flexible means avoiding around-the-world plane tickets (valid for 12 months and require travel one direction) and fixed future (lodging, tour, etc.) reservation dates.

 
 Budget
We budgeted based on information posted on web sites of other world travelers. There is a wide range of travel budgets posted. Some claim to have traveled in India for a year on US$4K. Others get by in Southeast Asia for a year on US$10K. We found a few travelers who are backpacking the way we intend through countries we plan to visit. Their expenses tend to be around US$20K-30K per person per year. Using this figure as a benchmark, and deciding that we'd rather stay in hotels and B&Bs instead of dormitories, we budgeted US$50K for the 2 of us per year.

 
 Cash
The question I am most frequently asked by people planning for a world trip is, "How do you carry your cash?"  
 Vaccinations                  Top
Plan vaccinations at least 6 months ahead of time. Each country has a unique list of recommended vaccinations. Consult your local traveler's clinic to decide which are practical for you. The following is the list of vaccinations we got.  
 Insurance                  Top
There are very few international health insurance plans available in the US. After considerable time searching the web, we found Liaison International and IMG ExPatriot Plus. The fees and coverage were quite similar between all 3. We chose IMG because it was being carried by an insurance agent used by Wes' parents. IMG does not have a web page. Contact them at the following:
International Medical Group
ExPatriot Travel Medical Insurance
IMG, 407 N. Fulton Street, Indianapolis, Indiana 46202
Tel: (317) 655-4500, (800) 628-4664

 
 Mail Receipt                  Top
American Express card holders are entitled to receive letters at any American Express Services office in the world, free of charge. Visit a nearby American Express office to get a photocopy of all American Express Services office addresses in all cities in your itinerary.

Have mail sent to:

Your Name
c/o American Express Services
Street Address, City, Zip, Country

Mail is held at the American Express Services office for one month. To claim the letter, just show your American Express card at the counter.

 
 Internet and Web Host                  Top
Reasons for Needing Internet Access and Email:

Internet Access through an Internet Service Provider

Subscribing to an Internet Service Provider (ISP) only makes sense if you are carrying a modem equipped PC. Many ISPs offer Global Roaming, a feature that allows you to connect to your ISP with a local call from most cities in the world. There are two major international networks of ISPs: GRIC http://www.gric.com and iPASS http://www.ipass.com. A good way to select an ISP is to visit the GRIC and iPASS web sites, choose one based on their international coverage, and then choose an ISP member of your preferred international ISP network provider. Most ISP accounts come with one or more personal e-mail accounts and some web host space.

Internet Access at an Internet Café

For a per-minute charge, the Internet can be accessed at an Internet Café. Rates tend to vary between US$0.02 - US$0.10 per minute depending on the country. Over the past few years, Internet Cafés have become more prevalent than bank cash machines. In most countries, Internet Cafés can be found in all cities and some remote towns. There are a handful of free web-mail providers. Two of the most popular are Yahoo http://www.yahoo.com and Hotmail http://www.hotmail.com. We find Yahoo web pages to display much faster than Hotmail pages, so given a choice, we'd choose Yahoo. With web-mail, you can send e-mail messages and keep your inbox online, accessible from any Internet connection.

Web Host

There are several free Web Hosts and many more paid Web Hosts. A Web Host provides disk space to post web pages; it does not give you Internet access - that's what ISPs and Internet Cafés are for. When connected to the Internet, files can be transferred to a Web Host using a File Transfer Protocol (FTP) utility. Free web hosts to consider are Bravenet (web: http://www.bravenet.com) and Hypermart (web: http://www.hypermart.net). All free Web Hosts place ads on web pages uploaded to their web server.

Paid Web Hosts have a wide range of fees and services. If looking for cheap web hosting without banner ads but limited service features, consider Bravenet's paid web hosting (web: http://www.bravenet.com).
A web host with more features than Bravenet yet nearly as cheap is PowWeb (web: http://www.powweb.com). I use PowWeb because with my www.atwtravel.net domainName, PowWeb lets me create up to 100 email addresses @atwtravel.net, and use these addresses on PowWeb's webmail and PowWeb's POP3 SMTP server. This means that without an ISP subscription, I can configure a mail client on my laptop, plug into an Internet Cafe, and use my @atwtravel.net mail just as I would, were I paying for an ISP connection.
If looking for a robust web host with enough features to run an online shopping business, consider http://www.jdshost.com.

Each Web Host restricts the amount of disk space that can be used per account. Often there is no restriction to the number of accounts a user can subscribe on a free Web Host. Generally, if multiple accounts are requested immediately after one another, they are created on the same physical disk. (Remember, a web hosting company may have thousands of computers and disks networked together.) In case the size of a single web site exceeds the disk space limit of one account, a second account can be used for overflow with reference links between web pages loaded on the two accounts. Having two or more accounts that have linked pages on the same disk is faster because bandwidth bottlenecks in the web host company's network are avoided. Some web hosts, however, try to restrict this practice.

Web Host Policy

Web Host companies exist under some governing company policy. Some only accept web sites that have personal interest content. Others promote commercial sites. Based on the Web Host policy, the kinds of services provided vary greatly.

Domain Name Registration

Many Web Hosts support the linking of a purchased Domain Name to a web account on their web server. Free web hosts FortuneCity, HyperMart, and Bravenet support this action. Almost every paid web host supports Domain Name linking. The only paid web host I know of that does not support Domain Name resigration is AOL. If you want to promote your web site widely, purchase a Domain Name and choose a Web Host that supports Domain Name registration.

Learning HTML and Creating a Web Page

  • All essential HTML needed to create a basic web page can be learned in a weekend. We used a tutorial CD called "Web Page".
  • NetObjects Fusion MX makes web page writing faster and easier. NetObjects Fusion MX is the most fully featured web site development tool on the market. It has everything needed to build, manage, and promote a web site.
  • An image utility like Photoshop is invaluable to create and size .jpg and .gif files that fit nicely into the web page layout. Use Adobe ImageReady to create moving images (called Automated GIFs).
Order software needed to build your web site here.
Order software through Amazon.com
In association with Amazon.com.
In Association with Amazon.com
Order NetObjects Fusion MX software. NetObjects Fusion generates HTML and JAVA in a professional and appealing look. With NetObjects Fusion, build an exceptional web site with ease. null
 
 Packing List                  Top
Many travelers over pack. We researched the web to find packing lists, multi-purpose fast drying clothes, and light weight gear. We are confining ourselves to one backpack each to stay mobile. This list of items gets us through years of travel in cold, hot, dry, and wet climates. On high altitude mountain climbs, we rent additional specialized gear.

Valuables Electronic Equipment
  • passports
  • passport photos
  • certificate of Yellow Fever vaccination
  • health insurance cards
  • money pouches
  • cash
  • travelers checks
  • credit cards
  • bank cards
  • US drivers licenses
  • Toshiba Libretto L3 laptop with internal modem & Ethernet port
  • Toshiba laptop electrical adapter
  • backup Toshiba laptop battery
  • external Toshiba CD-ROM drive
  • Toshiba USB floppy drive & disks
  • Sanwa Supply USB mouse
  • Sony USB camera cable
  • Sony F505 digital camera
  • 1 backup Sony camera battery
  • Sony camera battery re-charger
  • 2 Sony 64MB memory sticks
  • RoadWarrior universal electrical adapter
  • Sony ear phones
  • Palm Pilot Vx
  • Palm battery recharger / USB PC-link travel kit
Clothes (Masami) Clothes (Wes)
  • 45 liter backpack
  • 1 Columbia waterproof hooded 4-season jacket
  • 1 Patagonia pile pull over
  • 1 Patagonia long sleeved hiking shirt
  • 3 hiking t-shirts (REI, Royal Robbins)
  • 1 long sleeved dress shirt
  • 2 REI hiking pants with zip-off legs
  • 1 waterproof pants
  • 1 hiking/jogging shorts
  • 1 pair of REI pile gloves
  • 1 belt
  • 1 hat
  • 1 shawl
  • 2 bras
  • 4 underpants
  • 3 pairs of synthetic hiking socks
  • 1 polyester long underwear
  • 3 cloth sanitary pads
  • 1 pair of Scarpa hiking boots
  • 1 pair of TEVA sandals
  • 60 liter backpack
  • 1 Patagonia waterproof hooded 4-season jacket
  • 1 Patagonia pile pull over
  • 1 polyester long-sleeve undershirt
  • 3 hiking t-shirts (REI, Royal Robbins, Sugoi)
  • 1 Ex-Officio long-sleeve button-down shirt
  • 1 GAP long-sleeve shirt
  • 2 Ex-Officio hiking pants with zip-off legs
  • 1 waterproof pants
  • 1 polyester long underwear
  • 1 shorts for hiking/jogging/swimming
  • 1 pair of pile gloves
  • 1 belt
  • 1 hat
  • 4 underpants
  • 3 pairs of synthetic hiking socks
  • 1 pair of Scarpa hiking boots
  • 1 pair of TEVA sandals
Toiletries (Masami) Toiletries (Wes)
  • small thin towel
  • nylon towel
  • hair brush
  • razor
  • tooth brush
  • lip balm
  • dental floss
  • disposable sanitary pads
  • 2 Arsoa face soap
  • 2 Arsoa lotions
  • 1 Arsoa face powder
  • small thin towel
  • ear cleaner
  • razor
  • soap
  • shampoo
  • dental floss
  • tooth paste
  • tooth brush
  • lip balm
  • toilet paper
Others Camp Items
  • KORJO pegless clothes line
  • sink plug
  • clothes washing detergent
  • Swiss army knife
  • nail clippers
  • sewing kit
  • safety pins
  • 2 pacsafe wire mesh with lock
  • 2 sunglasses
  • 2 sun block
  • 1 folding umbrella
  • 2 rain ponchos
  • 2 backpack rain covers<
  • pen / highlighter
  • notepad
  • 2 wrist watches, one with thermometer and altimeter
  • adhesive packing tape
  • Eucalyptus oil
  • Lavender oil
  • Lonely Planet guide book
  • 2-3 books to read
  • medical kit (emergency blanket, band aids, antibiotic ointment, disinfectant spray, handy wipes, aspirin, moleskin, new skin liquid bandage, insect repellant, bandage tape, heat pads, Mefloquine malaria tablets, Immodium, antihistamine)
  • vitamins and Echinacea
  • 2 sleeping bags (REI and Marmot)
  • 2 cups
  • 2 sporks (spoon & fork combo)
  • MSR water filter
  • Iodine tablets
  • 2 Petzl head lamps
  • thin rope
  • 2 bandannas
  • pillow case
  • Platypus water bottles
  • Platypus water bottle carrier
  • large plastic garbage bag

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