It's good for long-distance travelers to know that there are five rest areas along I-95 northbound in South Carolina.

Because when you've got to go, you've got to go.

And knowing where rest areas are before they hit the road might help weary travelers avoid missing them, especially at night. 

Experts on travel offer a variety of tips to make a long road trip smoother and safer.

"The first thing is planning," said Ryan Pietzsch, the National Safety Council’s expert on driver safety education and training. "Plan your trip. When are you going to travel. What's the traffic anticipated to be. What's the weather supposed to be."

If Pietzsch is driving along the entire I-95 corridor, he is going to learn where rest areas are.

"That's part of the trip. It depends on how far you are going and who you are traveling with," Pietzsch said.

Drivers shouldn't be behind the wheel for more than two hours without some type of a break.

"You can plan that on a map," Pietzsch said. "If it's a little longer than expected or if you need to take a break more often, you should know where those (rest areas) are," he said.

Motorists also should keep their gas tank close to full whenever possible, and, on longer trips, plan enough time to stop to stretch, get something to eat, return calls or text messages, and change drivers or rest if they feel drowsy.

Other advice from websites is that motorists set a reasonable amount of miles to be on road within a given day, to stay alert and be safe. 

Making sure tires are inflated properly and vehicle fluids are at their proper level are among several preparations travelers should take while preparing for a trip.

A lot of travelers are getting their RVs out this time of year, Pietzsch said.

"Making sure that the tires are appropriate. Maybe they have been sitting all winter – for six months," Pietzsch said.

Motorists are wise to prepare an emergency roadside kit for road trips.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommends that such a kit include a cell phone and a charger, a first aid kit, a flashlight, flares and a white flag, jumper cables, tire pressure gauge, a jack and ground mat for changing a car.

Also recommended are:

• Work gloves and a change of clothes

• Basic repair tools and some duct tape, which is used to temporarily repair a hose leak.

• Water and paper towels for cleaning up

• Nonperishable food, drinking water and medicines.

• Extra windshield washer fluid

• Maps

• Emergency blankets, towels and coat.

The agency also advises motor vehicle owners to check for recalls through its website

Regular maintenance of vehicles also is recommended, such as tune-ups, oil changes, battery checks and tire rotation.

"If your vehicle has been serviced according to the manufacturer’s recommendations, it should be in good condition to travel. If not — or you don’t know the service history of the vehicle you plan to drive — schedule a preventive maintenance checkup with your mechanic right away," the NHTSA's website says.

Make sure windshield wiper blades are operating properly; just as rubber belts and hoses are vulnerable to the summer heat, so are wiper blades, the agency says.

"Examine your blades for signs of wear and tear on both sides. The blades can also deform and fail to work properly in both directions. If they aren’t in top condition, invest in new ones before you go," the agency's website says.

Tire safety is critically important. Travelers should make sure each tire on their vehicles is filled to the vehicle manufacturer’s recommended inflation pressure, which is listed in the owner’s manual and on a placard located on the driver’s side door frame. The correct pressure is not the number listed on the tire. 

Vehicle operators should check tires when they are cold, which means the car hasn’t been driven for at least three hours. 

Never operate a vehicle with tires that are more than six years old, says the Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles Department.

Using GPS and other tools on cellular phones help motorists plan their routes and make it to their destinations in the time they have allotted for travel.

The American Automobile Association has a wealth of information on travel, such as offering a list of AAA approved auto repair facilities. Visit for a referral for auto repair.

Pietzsch also advises motorists to know how to use a map, noting that a lot of people have lost those skills over the years because of the advent of GPS in vehicles and on phones.

"The most important thing is don't drive distracted. Have the passengers helping you out," he said.

Drivers should designate a navigator for a trip – other than themselves.

"It's a problematic. It's illegal in most states to interact with your phones while driving anyway," Pietzsch said. "It's extremely dangerous. Regardless of how legal or illegal it is, we know it causes a lot of problems on the roadways and a lot of fatalities.”