Road trips are a fun and exciting way to explore the world. However, they involve proper preparation to be successful. Flying by the seat of your pants might feel freeing and spontaneous, but a long car journey can become stressful and unsafe without a plan.
Read on to learn about how you can prepare for your upcoming road trip so that you can enjoy your vacation. (without ever having to worry about your car not working & junking it later).
Plan Your Route
Even with today’s modern GPS technology, it is possible to get lost on the road. You could lose signal, especially on remote scenic roads. That is why it is essential to plan your route ahead of time. Printing out or purchasing a paper map outlining your drive can help you stay on track and avoid getting lost.
Moreover, a planned drive can help you be efficient with your time at rest stops and mark how far they are from each other.
By planning your route, you can also identify the locations of gas stations and ensure that you are never nearing empty. Additionally, making a plan can help you reserve lodging ahead of time. This way, you are not scrambling to find the right hotel, campground, or other resting spots.
A road trip requires you to bring everything you need (within reason) with you. These items include appropriate clothing, shoes, and toiletries. However, on long drives, there are other items that you will need.
Snacks and water are essential for any road trip. While you could stop at rest areas and restaurants along the way, having food on hand will prevent you from getting too hungry or wasting time and money at restaurants.
Packing disinfecting wipes, hand sanitizer, garbage bags, tissues, and towels can also come in handy, especially if you are traveling with children.
In addition to personal items, you will need certain car supplies. A tire changing kit and a spare tire are must-haves for any long car journey. If you run over debris, you will be thankful that you had a way to change your damaged tire.
Spark plugs can be useful if your battery goes out and extra motor and radiator fluid might be necessary.
Aside from emergency car supplies, you should equip your vehicle with other emergency items like:
- A first aid kit.
- Non-perishable food.
These items can come in handy if you find yourself stranded with a broken-down vehicle waiting for assistance.
Prep Your Car
Before leaving on a road trip, you need to ensure that your car can support such a drive. This means that you get your car checked at an auto repair center. A mechanic will be able to check all the major areas of your car and give you the green light. He or she will check the following:
- Motor oil level and filter.
- Tire pressure.
- Head, tail, and turning lights.
- State of windshield wipers.
- Fluid levels.
- Battery health.
- Tire alignment and tread depth.
If anything is out of the ordinary or needs maintenance, you can get these things taken care of before getting on the road. Taking the time to get your car inspected might save you time, money, and stress.
Check Your Insurance Coverage
No matter your car insurance company, you will be covered across state lines. However, your liability coverage might not be enough in an emergency on a long road trip.
Different states have different requirements for minimum coverage. It is important to research your insurer’s policies in the state or states you will be traveling in. Otherwise, you might not have enough coverage if you get into an accident.
Roadside assistance can be extremely helpful on a road trip. You never know what can happen when driving hundreds or thousands of miles. Weather, animals, and other drivers can cause unexpected damage on the road. Without help from your insurer, you might find yourself stuck in the middle of nowhere waiting for rescue.
Thus, it is important to consider your coverage options before heading out on a long trip in a car. Even if you don’t need additional insurance at home, it might save you thousands on the road.
Prepare a Contingency Plan
Even if you do everything right when it comes to planning your trip, there are just some things you can’t plan for. Car accidents, extreme weather, running out of gas, engine failure are all things that can happen and you must be prepared.
Creating a contingency plan can help you in such emergencies. This plan should outline how you will get back home, or at least to the nearest lodging if you no longer have your vehicle. It should also take into account how you will manage if cannot get help right away.