We’re huge fans of jumping on a plane at the last minute and figuring things out when you land. A long road trip, however, is a different ball game. Heading anywhere on four-wheel presents a particular challenge which requires significantly more planning towards road trip preparations; that is, at least, if you plan on getting there safely and comfortably. Read on for these 10 Tips to the Ultimate Road Trip to ensure you do not end up stuck on the side of the gravel road in Bumchuck, Nowhere.
1) Ready Your Ride
First up on this list of ultimate road trip tips is simply ensuring your ride is up for the challenge. You’re at the mercy of the machine underneath you; take care of it, and it’ll take care of you. It doesn’t matter if you’re going across the province/state, or across the country — your wheels need to be up to speed. Absolutely nothing will ruin your trip faster than car troubles, so take a few simple precautions before you set out.
- Check your fluids. This includes engine oil, transmission fluid, antifreeze, radiator coolant, brake fluid, windshield washer fluid, and power steering fluid.
- Check all the hoses and belts and ensure they are properly secured.
- Check your tire pressure. The ideal pressure should be listed on the side of the tire and/or on the manufactores label inside the driver or passenger door.
- `Make sure your headlights and brake lights are in working order.
It’s also a good idea to carry extras of things like fluids and even belts.
2) Get Your Vehicle Serviced
If you don’t know your fender from your fuel cap or your radiator from your roof rack, you might want to go ahead and get your car serviced before hitting the road. And if it’s been awhile since the last servicing, you should get it done anyway. Why is getting your vehicle serviced so important? It can catch a small problem before it becomes a huge problem. It can keep a $100 dollar repair from becoming a $1,000 repair. Most importantly for the purposes of your road trip preparations, it’ll ensure you stay safe and on the road, and not on the side of it.
3) Spare Tire
Don’t forget about the spare tire. Make sure it’s properly inflated, and double check that you have the right tools to replace a flat.
4) Build or Buy an Emergency Car Kit
Your kit can be as simple or as extensive as you feel comfortable with, but should contain at least these crucial items:
- First aid kit
- Extra oil
- Jumper cables
- Small tool kit
- Duct tape
- Blankets and/or sleeping bags
- Extra food – granola/energy bars
- Flashlight and extra batteries
- Multi-purpose tool
- Extra gas can
If you want to take your ultimate road trip safety up a notch and be prepared for even more eventualities, add these items to your emergency kit:
- Pen and paper
- Rags/paper towels
- Foldable shovel
- Spare car fuses
- Flat tire inflation canister
- Roadside flares
- Extra clothing for colder climates
- Fire extinguisher
- Solar battery charger for both the car battery and your electronics
- Sanitation items – towelettes, hand sanitizer, trash bags.
5) Bring a Spare Car Key
This may sound obvious, but losing your car key on the road would be a disaster. Be sure to make one of your road trip preparation priorities to bring a few and keep them in a separate location from your main car key.
6) Cash Up
Next up on this list of Ultimate Road Trip tips is to carry the currency of the land. We live in a plastic world where cash is no longer a necessity, but if you find yourself hungry in some tiny town in the middle of nowhere, or in a place where the cell service is bad or down altogether, you may be glad you made carrying cash part of your road trip preparations. It’s also handy to have for various bridge and highway tolls you may encounter, saving you costly and surprising fines when you return home.
7) Buy An Actual Map
Yes, you can get where you need to go with Google Maps and any other number of mobile map applications that can plan your route, such as roadtrippers.com. Sites like that are awesome tools for your road trip preparations, but a real map will act as a backup and failsafe in the event your phone is dead or you’re somewhere with no cell service. Also, it’s just a lot more fun to take a pen and a sharpie to an actual map to mark your progress and make notes as you go. It can also serve as a nice keepsake to remind you of your journey.
8) Check-in Online
If you’re anything like me, you hate it when people update their daily lives on Facebook. It’s obnoxious, but this is the rare occasion where checking in online with your current location makes a lot of sense. In the unlikely event that something unforeseen happens to you and your travelling entourage, friends and family will easily be able to figure out your last location.
9) Rest Up and Load Up on Music
Getting tired and getting bored are probably the two biggest road trip dangers that people never think about. Tired drivers and long road trips are a recipe for trouble, and many drivers don’t even realize that they’re too tired. Make getting lots of sleep before you go a priority for your road trip preparations, and don’t push yourself too far on a daily basis. If you’re fighting it to just keep your eyes open, get off the road and get some rest.
Make sure your phone or iPod is fully stocked as well. Not only is music a crucial component of the great road trip, but it also helps stave off boredom, which will help keep you more alert, and thus, much safer. And don’t stop at tunes; keep things fresh by loading up a bunch of podcasts and audiobooks as well.
10) Plan, But Not Too Much
Last up on this list of ultimate road trip tips is to make a solid plan for where you want to go, how you want to get there, and where you want to stop along the way. Work out in advance what sites you want to see and how much time you want to dedicate to them, but keep it loose! Road trip preparations are paramount, but a road trip without some semblance of spontaneity can start to feel more like a chore than a vacation in a hurry. Ao leave yourself some extra time, and if you decide the city you’re in can’t be done in the one day you planned for, take another day and enjoy it!
After all, travelling exactly how you want to travel is the best part of the road trip.
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