Road trips are a great way to bond with family or friends by seeing majestic sceneries, exploring new cities, and enjoying the entire journey itself. But it’s all fun and games until the car breaks down or unexpected roadwork happens.
When it comes to road trips, it’s best to expect the unexpected and come prepared. Read on to learn essential tips and must-haves to make a much-awaited road trip hassle-free.
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1. Get Your Vehicle Ready
Check Your Tires
An important tip to not miss out on before hitting the road is inspecting the tires. Specifically, it’s essential to ensure the tire pressure matches the standard set in the owner’s manual.
Car owners also need to look out for any cracks or bulges on the wheels and inspect the tire tread. The treads allow traction and veer water away from the tire to prevent slipping when it rains.
Worn tire treads can be dangerous. If left unattended, the driver can easily lose control of their vehicle on wet roads.
Clean Up Your Car
Washing the car before a road trip doesn’t only make it look good. Cleaning the windows of dirt ensures the driver gets the best visibility while on the road.
Aside from cleaning the windshield, replacing worn wiper blades is also essential. Otherwise, they can leave smears on the windscreen and block the view.
Of course, it’s equally important to clean the vehicle’s interior. To prevent any unwanted stains from spillage when eating during the trip, it’s best to install easy-to-clean car seat covers, like the Toyota Hilux seat covers, from the get-go.
Test Your Lights and Brakes
Ensure that the vehicle’s lights and brakes are working, especially when going on a long road trip. Car owners should check their headlights, brake lights, and hazard and reverse lights and replace them if necessary. Meanwhile, brake pads need to be replaced when the pedals have already hit the floor or when there’s a burning smell when hitting the brakes.
Get Your Car Tuned Up
If a car has not gone for a tune-up for years now, doing so before the trip is a great time to get it done. A tune-up usually involves replacing spark plugs, cleaning the throttle body, and removing gunk buildup from the oiling system. This will help the vehicle run smoothly and improve fuel economy.
2. Prepare an Emergency Road Trip Kit
Before going on a road trip, drivers need to pack essential documents in case of a hiccup. These include driver’s license, certificate of insurance, and the vehicle’s registration certificate. The last thing you want is to use your holiday money to pay for hefty fines.
You never know when a first aid kit can come in handy. This is a must-have for road trippers, especially when going to a certain trail or destination for the first time.
Some essentials to include in a first aid kit are as follows:
- Surgical tape
- Crepe bandages
- Tweezers and scissors
- Antiseptic wipes
- Antibacterial cream
- Medication for pain relief, diarrhea, and allergies
Anyone can get locked out of their vehicle one way or another. And that can be a pain, especially while on a road trip.
A solution to this is to bring a car unlocking tool like a slim jim. Made of strong, flexible steel, this tool comes with slim jim instructions so users can successfully unlock their car without breaking its locking mechanism.
Now, it’s easy to download a mobile map app for locating your destination. While most of these apps rely on a stable internet connection, some of them still work offline.
For instance, Waze keeps the route on its cache, granting the user input of the route before leaving for a no-connection zone. To be safe, pack a physical map for emergencies.
A flashlight is always a handy tool for emergencies. While most mobile phones have a torch, it’s still easier to hold a flashlight, especially when rummaging for stuff in the luggage or looking under the car.
Emergency communication tools like a citizens band radio (or CB radio) can also come in handy during road trips. You never know when an accident or disaster can strike, so it helps to be informed. A CB radio allows you to communicate with other radio users on the road and get real-time traffic updates, which can help you avoid congested routes or motor accidents. In an emergency, you can also use the radio to call for help.
3. Pack for Comfort
Sunglasses make one look cool and block out glare from the sun, especially when driving! Sunlight glare can cause headaches, not to mention block one’s view of the road.
Packing tissues and wipes for a long road trip ahead is nonnegotiable as it can help one get away with anything—a spill on the car seat, sticky fingers, and going number two. Don’t forget the basics, like sunscreen, toothbrush, toothpaste, and some moisturizer for those with dry skin during winter.
Hitting the road at night or early in the morning can be chilly. A warm jacket can help shield you from the cold. Of course, it’s vital to pack the right clothes for the weather.
There may be several stopovers to buy snacks from, but some routes may not have as many. It’s best to bring some snacks on the trip, like bananas, granola bars, or sandwiches. Carrying a water bottle also helps you stay hydrated during the long journey.
Don’t forget to take essential devices, like smartphones, cameras, and spare chargers. Having a car socket is also helpful when charging gadgets while on the go. A power bank is also a nifty gadget and can help provide power if a charging station is still out of the way.
4. Create an Itinerary
First off, the driver should ask if anyone can share the driving responsibility. Having an alternate driver will ensure everyone gets to rest and the journey stays safe.
Other than that, here are some important tips to follow:
- Plan the route. It’s better to know the path ahead than to spend unnecessary time figuring it out on the spot. It’s also an opportunity to look out for existing roadworks ahead and avoid them from the get-go.
- Make use of all the stops. Some stops are miles apart from each other, so it’s best to make the stop every time, replenish supplies, and use the bathroom.
- Check weather conditions. Before planning the trip, checking the weather on those days is crucial. Otherwise, road trippers may not be able to pack the right clothes. Worse, they can get in trouble while on the road.
5. Learn Helpful Road Trip Skills
Many things can happen during a road trip. A vehicle can break down in the middle of nowhere, which can be unfortunate for people who don’t know how to fix it. Worst case scenario is they’ll get stuck there for hours until help comes.
It’s best to learn some important road trip survival skills before the big day. Some of these include the following:
- Learning how to change a tire. Taking a spare tire on a trip is useless if nobody knows how to install it.
- Learning how to check and top up water. The vehicle’s engine can overheat due to the long drive. It pays to learn how to open up the hood and fix the issue.
- Knowing how to change the wiper blades. Old wiper blades can cause smearing to the window and affect the driver’s visibility.
It’s Not the Destination, But the Journey
Road trips should be all about fun and excitement. It’s important to make the necessary preparations to avoid any bumps in the road—literally. Of course, the most important tip is to enjoy the scenery and the company of friends and loved ones!
Jennifer Coleman is a community relations officer at FitMyCar.com.au and a contributing writer to several auto and travel blogs and websites. Jennifer enjoys traveling and attending car shows in her spare time.
The reproduction of any of the content, including the photographs without prior consent/permission of the writer, is strictly prohibited and a violation of the same will attract legal action.
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