If you want to have a fun adventure this year, but don’t want to take too much time off from work or home, why not organize a road trip? Road tripping is a great activity for all—solo travelers, couples, families with kids and groups of friends—and it’s cost-effective, fun and exciting. But, you can’t just hop in your car and start driving. Here are a few tips that will ensure you have a smooth, safe and comfortable road trip:
Map it out
Do you know where you’re going? It can be fun to just drive aimlessly and stumble upon interesting points, but if your time and budget are limited, it’s much better to have a plan. With a destination in mind, you can create a nice map with practical stops, points of interest and cozy accommodation. If you’re planning to venture off the beaten track, make sure to bring a paper map in case you lose coverage. Maps will give you a better sense of the area and make your trip even more exciting.
Do a thorough car check
Next, it’s time to check your vehicle and ensure it’s ready for a long trip. Every time you’re about to check your car, remember this acronym: FORCES. FORCES reminds you of everything you will need to check before embarking and before every new leg of your route.
• F – fuel: This one is pretty straightforward because you need to have enough fuel to push your road trip forward.
• O – oil: Check your oil before your drive and make sure that your levels are between min and max marks on the oil measuring stick. Consult with the user manual or your mechanic about the best oil for your car.
• R – rubber: Everything connected to any rubber in or on your car should be checked, which includes tires, wipers, breaks, etc. Ensure that your tires are in good condition and properly inflated. Also, check the brake fluid and top off your wiper fluids. Properly inflated tires help to improve gas mileage, and they also help to extend the life of the tires. In addition, properly inflated tires can help to improve the handling of the car and make it easier to control in emergency situations. Besides checking your tires it is essential to change them at least every 3 to 5 years. When changing tires, you should consult with a mechanic or read reviews of different tire brands before making a purchase. Some reviews of top tire brands will help you to choose the right type of tire for your car which can improve your driving experience and save your money.
• C – coolant: Your coolant and antifreeze should be filled to the max before you embark on your trip (only do this while your car is cool to avoid burns and steam scolding). It’s important to use the correct type and additive, just like stated in your car manual.
• E – electrics: This element includes checking the electrics in your car, meaning all the lights, ensuring they are in good condition. Have someone outside of your car inform you whether your side lights, dipped and main beams, blinkers, stop lights, fog lights, brake lights, reversing lights, etc. are in working condition. Don’t let your battery fail you, so check whether all terminals are tight and clean of any corrosion.
• S – screenwash: it’s not only illegal to drive without screenwash, but it’s also very dangerous. Get proper fluid for your wipers, according to the driving conditions, and make sure to top off the levels.
Think about insurance
When going on a trip, make sure your car is properly insured so you don’t have to come back from your trip broke. If you have an insurance policy provider, make sure to check with them about any additions you can grab for your road trip. However, keep an eye out for junk insurance, or add-on insurance put to your policy without your knowledge. Services like CCI, GAP Insurance and Mechanical Breakdown Insurance serve no purpose besides taking money out of your pocket. Luckily, it is possible to get a junk insurance refund if you start working with a compensation team that will sue and get you your money back. You don’t need an extra expense, and you can use the money you get back to fund a new road trip!
Once your car is protected by insurance and working properly, it’s time to fill it with necessities that will ensure you have a smooth trip. Start with a first aid kit—you’re probably not going to need this, yet it’s still crucial to have it for any emergencies. Next, add one or two blankets and pillows for the comfort of the passengers. Then come various entertainment options like audiobooks, music, movies for passengers, etc. It’s also crucial to check whether you have jumper cables, flares, a simile tool kit, matches and something for traction like chains (especially if you’re having a winter road trip).
Prepare snacks and drinks
It’s crucial to be well-equipped with food and drinks for your road trip. Naturally, you will most likely make stops in interesting places with food and try something local and fresh, but it’s also important to be fed during the drive. The foods you’re snacking on should be light yet nutritious. Experts recommend trail mix and fresh veggies. When you have hungry kids in the car, these snacks can literally be a life-saver. Next, make sure to have a healthy water supply. In case you get lost or get a breakage, you can be without food but not without water. Being well-hydrated also ensures your focus is in top shape and you’re healthy and strong.
Rest before you embark
You shouldn’t be fighting exhaustion even before you start your trip. The night before, make sure to get at least 7 hours of sleep so you have a nice energy reserve for driving and exploration. Start your trip in the morning when you’re fresh after a full night of sleep, not in the evening when your energy levels are getting low. Also, make sure to take regular breaks—this is a must. Every 100 miles (or two hours of driving) do your best to stop, stretch and refuel. If you can, rest between 1 and 3 pm when you’re naturally drowsy and maybe consider taking a short nap.
Wander as much as you like
It’s great to have a plan when road tripping, but don’t hesitate to leave some wiggle room so you can go exploring around. What is the purpose of taking your own vehicle if you’re not going to exercise your freedom of movement? If you see a little detour that looks attractive, don’t hesitate to take it because it most likely hides a beautiful gem.
If you prepare for your trip with these tips in mind, you can expect an amazing adventure full of comfort, safety and excitement.