By Melanie Speicher -

SIDNEY — Your bags are packed and so is the car. Your family is ready to start its road trip for the annual summer vacation.

“Everyone is excited to be going on vacation,” said Shelby County Sheriff John Lenhart. “There are still a few things you need to do before starting out.”

Make sure all mail and newspaper delivery is stopped at your house for the length of the trip, said Lenhart. Also have someone check on the house periodically to make sure everything is OK both outside and inside.

“Pack all of your identification papers — driver’s license, car registration and vehicle insurance — and put it in one location,” said Lenhart.

He also encourages families to pack healthy snacks and water for their trip.

“This will keep you from stopping except for rest breaks,” said Lenhart.

Individuals who are on prescription medications should pack medicines for the length of the trip and then two or three days of additional medication.

“Sometimes something unexpected happens and you’ll have to stay longer,” said Lenhart. “Sometimes it’s hard to get prescription drugs when you’re traveling.”

Once on the road, Lenhart cautions against driving in “coast” mode.

“When you’re driving, you’ll get over in the right lane and it’s ‘coast’ time and suddenly you’re following too closely behind the vehicle in front of you. Keep lots of distance between your car and the one in front of you.

“Don’t get in a hurry — enjoy your trip,” he said.

He also said a traveler should have their trip route planned in advance and share those plans with a friend or family member so they know where you are traveling.

“Have your cellphone programmed with all your emergency phone numbers,” he said.

Be sure you have your trip mapped out, said Lenhart.

“I use AAA for maps and tourist locations when I’m traveling,” said Lenhart. “There are other agencies out there who do the same time as AAA.”

GPS is also helpful when traveling, he said.

“But sometimes when you get turned around, it seems like the GPS person is not helping you at all,” said Lenhart.

Another safety precaution, said Lenhart, is to avoid posting on Facebook or other social media sites that you’re away from home and the length of time of your vacation.

“Not everybody who looks at Facebook is your friend,” said Lenhart.

Also, said Lenhart, don’t keep all your cash and credit cards in one location.

“Have two sets of everything,” said Lenhart. “Keep one for yourself and the other for your spouse. I encourage you to use your credit card sparingly because of scammers.

“When I visit a Mom and Pop store, I use cash instead of a credit card,” he said.

While traveling, said Lenhart, you should pull over every couple of hours for a rest break.

“Breath in some fresh air and stretch,” said Lenhart. “Then when you get back into the car, make sure everyone is buckled up. Make sure you have car seats if you’re traveling with children.

“And if you’re taking your pet along, expect to make numerous stops for them,” he said.

Lenhart said if you have a conceal carry license, you should check with the states you are traveling through to make sure they honor Ohio’s permits.

“Some states don’t honor those from Ohio,” said Lenhart.

By Melanie Speicher

The writer conducts a weekly interview to update readers with news from the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office, 555 Gearhart Road, Sidney.

The writer conducts a weekly interview to update readers with news from the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office, 555 Gearhart Road, Sidney.