10 Tips to the Ultimate Road Trip

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 that 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 manufactures label inside the driver or passenger door.
  • Make sure your headlights and brake lights are in working order.
  • Ensure you invest and secure durable car floor mats that will keep all the dirt and mud you’re following in, and the food and drink you’re spilling on the vehicle floor during your trip.

It’s also a good idea to carry extras of things like fluids and even belts. You may also want to purchase some driver assists (such as rear-view cameras) from sites like TadiBrothers.

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 a while 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
  • Water
  • 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
  • Antifreeze
  • 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.

What say you?
Thoughts on these 10 Tips to the Ultimate Road Trip?
Let’s hear it!

Like me? Pin me!

Looking for more Travel Tips?

Affiliate Disclosure: This page may contain affiliate links, which means that if you make a purchase, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Your support is highly valued and helps keep this site running! 🙏
Written By
More from Cort Smith
This Life in Trips’ Top 5 Scenic Routes in the U.S.A.
There are few countries that can match the sheer diversity of scenic...
Read More
8 replies on “10 Tips to the Ultimate Road Trip”
  1. Avatarsays: Jessisca Milligan

    The main rule for a perfect car trip is a good car. I’ve been renting cars at airports lately. There are many companies I have already checked out. I recently had an incredibly cool trip to Ibiza. The main pleasure was when I rented a convertible. It’s really a different experience, so I advise you to drive a convertible at least once in your life

  2. Avatarsays: Carola Jain

    These are all important tips to consider when it comes to preparing for a road trip. Having a spare tire, as you mentioned here, is an absolute must when driving any length.

  3. Avatarsays: Enjoying the Days

    What an excellent list this is! Servicing your car and have an emergency kit are the two that especially caught my interest. I would add #11 to say, bring your patience and positive attitude. On long distance journeys, any number of inconveniences can happen, and sometimes you need to be able to go with the flow. Happy travels!

  4. Avatarsays: Emily

    Having three younger siblings, I have grown to have a very love/hate relationship with road trips. I love the concept but have never actually been on one that didnt involve a car full of kids (and sometimes a dog or cat). One day I will go on one as an adult! haha

Comments are closed.