What Your College Student Should Know Before Driving Away

There are a lot of firsts that come with heading off to college: for many teens it’s their first time away from Mom and Dad for any significant length of time. Other guides will focus on things like doing laundry (having had to run a load with shampoo, it would have helped me). But there’s another first. For many, it’ll be the first time they’re driving far away from their parents.

So with that said, here are some things your teen should know before they go.

How to pack & drive a full vehicle

When everything on the freshman pack list is in the car, thanks to Mom, Dad and even the sullen little sibling, there’s one thing to remember. That won’t necessarily happen on the other end. Take the time to plan how much stuff can reasonably fit in the backseat/cargo area without overflowing. There’s nothing as disconcerting as driving by oneself and getting hit with a rolled-up poster because it was haphazardly left on top of other things.

Securing as many items as possible will help make the drive safer, and also give them a sense of what the actual limits are in terms of cargo. While you’re at it, you should take the time to stand at the four corners of the car with your teen in the driver’s seat so they can understand their limited visibility when their car is full of stuff. Of course, doing the same for backing up is important too.

Enter important numbers in their phones

Many parents opt for roadside assistance plans for peace of mind. You can set up a toll-free number as a contact and the “address” of the contact as their membership ID.

However, many females say they’re often wary about driving alone, and are even hesitant at gas stations, so the ability to stay in a locked car may ensure their safety from strangers. Young women should know these important tips:

  • Listen to your instincts
  • Don’t be afraid to say no
  • Keep a whistle on you
  • Don’t walk alone at night
  • Let your family know where you are

Don’t forget to pack these supplies

While the freedom of a road trip will be exciting, you can’t ignore the fact that sometimes emergencies happen. Building a small car kit could save the day, and doesn’t have to take up too much space. Here are some essentials:

  • Jumper cables
  • Reflector triangles
  • Car jack (and the knowledge to change a flat tire)
  • Snow brush/ice scraper
  • Phone charger
  • Hands-free phone mount
  • Navigation app like Waze or Google Maps
  • Snacks & water
  • Flashlight
  • Mini first aid kit

Get a quick health-check before hitting the road

A pre-trip safety check on the car is critical. If you’re a DIY-er, go ahead and take a look under the hood. If not, make an appointment with your favorite mechanic or garage. Preventative maintenance will ensure your child makes it to their destination without having to worry unnecessarily about the car.

  • Tire pressure & tread gauge
  • Wiper blades
  • Fluids, including oil, window cleaner & transmission
  • Air filter
  • Headlights & signals
  • Belts, hoses & filters
  • Battery

Final advice

When you see your son and daughter drive off into the distance, you’ll know they’re prepared. Not just for the next stage in their life, but for their first long solo drive. Don’t worry, Mom and Dad. You’ve done a great job. They’ll be fine.

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