Lay out your route beforehand and do one or two dry runs – if possible in the same traffic conditions you’ll encounter the day of the event.
Avoid dirt roads and extremely bumpy roads. Remember you are leading sports cars with stiff suspensions and most of the time the tops are down unless it is cold and everyone cleans their car before a run.
Schedule adequate bathroom breaks – every 1 to 2 hours.
Be sure to allow extra time over that required for the dry run. A caravan will always take more time.
Allow for a gathering place to regroup the cars after going through areas where the group will probably get broken up.
Make up written directions and provide copies for all the cars.
Plan a starting point with ample parking. Restrooms, gas, and food should be nearby.
Make arrangements for larger meals ahead of time and let the restaurant know how many to expect and when.
Check prices of meals and any admissions, etc. so we’ll know how much money we need to bring along.
Post your cruise info to the Forums, so others will know where and when you are going. This will also allow others to ask you questions, and generally share information about your cruise.
If this is your first time as leader, feel free to call one of the older members. You won’t have much trouble finding somebody who would love to do a dry run with you.
Leading on the Big Day
Communication! Bring your FRS/GMRS radio! This is very strongly recommended. If you don’t have one, get one. They are not expensive, and those with radios make jokes about those without radios. You don’t want us laughing at you.
If you end up leading without one, make sure that the car behind you has a radio and keep checking for a signal from them.
And More Communication! Make sure the last car in the line has a radio so you’ll know that the end of the line didn’t get lost or hung up. It also helps if the last car is a distinctive color (i.e. not red) so you can make a quick check in the mirror to see that we’re all there. If the group is large, try to get radios spaced throughout the line.
If there are more than 20 cars, consider splitting the group in two.
Watch your speed, especially while the caravan is going through areas where there are lights and stop signs. It can get like crack the whip. The end car has to really motor to catch up to the lead car after waiting for 15 cars in front to get through a stop sign. You may have to go under the speed limit (gasp!) for a while until everyone catches up.
Keep the group together. Slow down – or pull over – until everyone is back in line.
Observe all traffic rules and regulations. Be courteous to other drivers. Don’t expect that everyone will let the entire line go at once. If they don’t, that’s ok. They don’t have to. Don’t block public access or block traffic trying to get the line together.
If you’re in a high traffic area, bite the bullet, accept that your line will be broken up and regroup at an appropriate location where you can get back out without creating a traffic hazard.
Bring your FRS/GMRS radio (Talkabout, FRS, etc). It adds a fun dimension to the trip and really helps keep everything going smoothly.
If you don’t have a radio and you have a problem, flash your headlights. The car in front will pick up the signal and flash their headlights until someone with a radio gets the message and radios to the leader to stop.
Check now and then in your rear view mirror to see if the person behind you is frantically flashing their lights.
After regrouping along the side of the road, pull out onto the road all at once. It’s important for the cars in the back to pull onto the road while the line gets under way as quickly as is reasonable.
Stay together. Don’t let large gaps open up between you and the car in front. This lets a dreaded OTM (Other Than Miata) infiltrate the line which wrecks the aesthetic effect.
If you’re new to caravanning, get a spot near the front of the line.
Start the day with a full tank of gas.
And…start the day with an empty…um…Visit the restroom before you hit the road. Especially if you’ve been drinking coffee while socializing!