We have been traveling quite a lot, and on more than a few occasions we find ourselves with another family in a separate car. Sometimes it is on our turf, other times it is on theirs. Either way, we have learned some practical convoy techniques. This blog will be short and sweet, so here we go:
Each car must have the same address of the destination
Sounds very basic, but keep in mind if you get separated the following vehicle’s first reaction goes kinda like “Oh crap now I have to catch up or I might miss the turn/exit” or panic and just try to catch up. Having the knowledge that you can all get there with a gps reduces this stress
This way if you decide you want to get some burgers for the kiddos, the other car is not scratching their head why you are taking the wrong exit
The more conservative/careful driver may be better at taking the lead
For me, driving with my kids in the car make me more careful and I take less risks in driving. In a sense I am driving slower for the following car, but we all need to work as a team. You can only be as fast as your slowest team member-in this case that driver sets the pace. If communicated before the trip, the following cars will take note and can anticipate a reasonable speed.
The last vehicle can open up lane changes
The last car is in the best position to open up lane changes. He can change lanes (one at a time preferably) and each car ahead of him can change lanes in sequence. This is very effective but needs the first car to signal the lane change early on. The signal lights get relayed to the last car and he looks for an opportunity to change lanes. If you are on a freeway waiting for your exit, depending on your speed, you will want the first car to signal the change maybe 2 miles early.
At stop lights, stop signs, give lots of room
These create big gaps in your convoy if not timed right. The car ahead must adjust timing considering if the cars behind can keep up. Do not run thru yellow traffic lights or you risk the car behind you getting cut off.
Cellphones are good, radios are better
Each time we drive with family in a convoy, we keep wishing we brought a 2 way radio. The main convenience is you hit one button to communicate, and you can do so to the entire convoy. You don’t have to dial someone on the phone and redial for another car. An FRS/GMRS radio would work well for this, and those are fairly inexpensive.
Communicate the route
Even when we have given addresses so we all have it on our GPS, we still communicate what route we plan on taking. No specifics, but just so they understand the general pace/route. On our last road trip, I took an exit and stopped for coffee at a small town. While there, I explained to my dad how we will change the route and stay out of the freeway and use the backroads. This implied we would drive slower, but may have a more scenic trip in this place we were exploring.
Lead car checks traffic
My wife has gotten really good at being my navigator on these trips. Part of the task is checking for traffic ahead before we hit it. This way, we can veer off the freeway and take backroads. Instead of spending 3 hrs at the freeway, we can spend 2 hrs exploring the small towns along the way-less stress and a more pleasant experience.