I'm writing this because our trip to Carowinds yesterday proved to be quite the experience, and while I'm the kind of guy who gets off on making it through a crisis unscathed, I'm sure that if I'd been able to handle this without the stress to my wife and the boys, it would have been nicer for all involved, and I wouldn't want to see it happen to someone else.
1- Never separate into more parties than you have cell phones or other forms of communication. Each party should have a designated "communications officer" that keeps and maintains the cell phone/walkie talkie, what have you.
2- Wherever you are going, upon your arrival (at the very latest, if you can get a map of the area prior to the trip and do this, that's even better), everyone get together and determine checkpoints/meeting places that will be used in emergencies. Upon separation for the group, or some other crisis, everyone is to meet here.
3- Ensure that your vehicle is in good working order. Check/change oil, power steering fluid, wiper fluid, brake fluid, gas, and tranny fluid.
4- Have a chunk of cash on hand, reserved for emergencies. Last night at 7 pm, the only car rental agency that Mazda Roadside Assistance could get on the phone was the Enterprise at Charlotte, NC's airport. They do not do one way rentals, and it was going to be $80 a day for a basic rental. To put this in perspective, at the Enterprise down the road, I got an Expedition a year and a half ago for $31 a day when my Jeep was in the shop.
Had I done these things, I would not have been separated from my wife and children for 90 minutes yesterday, and would not have been talking to the head of security when she finally found a phone and called me.
I would also have been more prepared to pay the car rental when my wife's car (just over a year old) began having issues with the power steering system. Luckily, after the car cooled off, it began functioning properly again, and we made it home. There was a lot of damned drama in the meantime though.
Enjoy your summer, gents.