You’ve budgeted for a road trip this summer and you’ve secured the time off work. Now what? What else goes into a successful road trip when it comes to driving long distances, staying in unfamiliar places, and essentially, living out of your car for a week or two? In this article, find some basic and not-so-basic tips that will drive success on your summer road trip.
1. Get the car in shape.
My grandfather taught me how to check the oil when I was 10 years old. Seven years later, my dad showed me again, in the exact same car, because my grandfather’s 1972 El Camino SS was now my first car! The days of lifting the hood on a car and easily accessing the dipstick are dwindling, but the point is, check everything that you can: fluids (radiator, windshield wiper, oil, brake, etc.), electrical system, air pressure, spare tire, and make sure you have a tire jack, some work gloves, and a couple cans of oil in the trunk. My grandfather also taught me to keep a gallon of water on hand in case of emergency, including just being thirsty if you break down somewhere remote.
2. Make reservations in advance.
Most people love the idea of jumping in the car and driving until they decide they’ve gone far enough on their route to call it a day. But in reality, it’s just not practical not to have a specific destination and overnight reservations made somewhere. Leaving this to chance could mean paying much more than you expected if the only place around is pricey, or sleeping with the roaches—or worse—if your only option looks like the Bates Motel.
3. Take an ice chest.
If you’ve got precious cargo on board, like children or a spouse, you’ll want some snacks on board to keep everyone satisfied until you reach each day’s endpoint. Drinks and cold snacks, fruit, etc., go a long way toward keeping the peace. Each day, just grab a bag of ice when you fill up and you are set for the rest of the day. Over all, you’ll spend a lot less money if you plan ahead than stop the car every few hours for expensive gas station grub.
4. Keep your cell phone charged.
You don’t have to spend more than $20 for a reliable backup battery that will save you a major headache if you are caught without a working phone. Regardless of whether your vehicle is equipped with a built-in USB or other charging port, having a back-up plan if the car breaks down is well worth the few minutes it takes to throw it into the glove box. Traveling anywhere with a back-up battery makes sense. They’re compact, lightweight, and usually provide at least two full cell phone charges.
5. Check the weather.
It might be tempting to brush off the idea of checking to see what the weather will be like in a neighboring state, but summertime isn’t just all sunshine and no clouds. The Midwest especially is prone to extremely changeable weather, tornadoes and summer thunderstorms that can make for challenging driving conditions. At the very least, before you start each day, check to see what Mother Nature has in store.
It doesn’t matter where you’re going: on a tour of baseball stadiums around the country or to see your grandmother in her new long-term residential facility in Florida. These common sense tips can be implemented in a matter of minutes, and they are guaranteed to reduce hours, if not days, of potential headache. You’ve planned all year for your road trip, so why not give yourself a little free insurance by making sure these details are taken care of before you hit the road.