Summer road trips: The stuff of legends…and nightmares.  While road trips are a classic American experience, we’ve all heard at least one story of plans gone awry at 65 miles per hour. 

For every road trip mishap, there seems to be some common elements. Here are a few narratives you likely know all too well: 

A shortcut becomes a longcut. 
Dad thought it would be a good idea to forgo Highway 70 and forge his own path. The problem is, Dad was wrong about his route shaving an hour-and-a-half off the drive time. Suddenly, 10 hours becomes 14 hours and no one’s happy. 

How to avoid it: Take time to plan your route before you get in the car. It’s much easier to explore different options from the comfort of home than from the driver’s seat.  

The hotel isn’t quite what you expected. 

It’s late at night, you’ve found the nearest hotel, and you’re ready to check in. But the hotel clerk says the room rents by the hour, and that bathroom is sketchy at best. You stay because you have to, but a much-needed night of shut-eye is going to be hard to come by. 

How to avoid it: Instead of driving as long as you can and finding a random roadside hotel, cap the hours you’ll put down in a day. That way you can make a hotel reservation ahead of time and spare yourself any unpleasant surprises. 

The directions from the locals turn into a wild goose chase. 
Take a left at the big oak tree and keep going until you get to a three-way intersection…but were you supposed to take a left or a right to find the highway? Locals in the places you visit are a wealth of information, but since visitors don’t have a good understanding of area landmarks and road names, a favor can fast become a headache. 

How to avoid it: Bring an atlas or a map with you. While your GPS works in most places, cell service is never guaranteed.

Something goes wrong with the car. 
The car seemed fine when you set out in the morning, but now the vehicle isn’t accelerating well and the RPMs keep going up. Or you find yourself changing a tire as other cars whiz by at 70 miles per hour. There’s nothing worse than having car problems far from home — costs and time can quickly spiral. 

How to avoid it: While some car problems will never be predictable, it’s beneficial to get your car checked by a mechanic before you leave. If you know you have an issue, get it fixed or it could resurface at the most inopportune time. This is especially important if you’re taking a multi-day excursion where any setback will affect the duration of the trip. 

Next exit with utilities: 103 miles. 
Depending on where in the country you’re driving, there are long stretches of highway without exits for food or gas. The trip can be going perfectly, but you may still find yourself anxiously watching the gas gauge or dealing with a hungry and grumpy passenger.   

How to avoid it: Stock up on snacks and try not to drop below a quarter tank of gas. This will give you a buffer should you find yourself without a gas station. Be aware of the area you’re driving in and whether or not you need to plan for not having access to utilities for a while. 

Whether you have “hangry” car passengers or need to top off your car oil, Cenex® is on the road with you. Use our Location Finder to find the station nearest you. 

Photo courtesy of FLICKR USER.

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