How to Prepare for a Road Trip

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Do you have a big trip coming up? Are you traveling by car across the nation?

It’s a very exciting and rewarding memory to take the big leap and do the nationwide trip. When traveling by car you’ll see some parts of the country that are beautiful and unique. You’ll come across towns you never imagined that you would visit. If you are traveling with a friend or family member, you will build memories that can last a lifetime. Preparing for your trip is vital for the success of the trip and positive memories.

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road-trip-usaCheck Your Tires
Leaving on a road trip with worn-out tires can is against the law in some states. Check the tread and tire pressure before you go. Your tires are about to take on a very critical load and one little problem can lead to a devastating blow to your trip. Make sure there’s good treads, especially if you’re going into areas with unique weather. Make sure they’re aligned and properly filled with no signs of looking flat.

Check Your Car’s Fluids
Engine oil, brake fluid and coolant are just some of the fluids that play a critical role in your car’s engine. Check the fluid levels to avoid car problems. This is a common mistake, and a common problem with cars that are broken down on the side of the road. Most oil change companies will add this to their services; it is worth getting professionals to look it over if you don’t know how.

Inspect Your Lights
Before you head out on the road, have a friend help you check your exterior lights. If one of your lights isn’t working, you may be pulled over by a state trooper. Most areas you will travel through on a long trip will be dark. Streetlights aren’t always going to be there. If your lights are old and fading, consider getting new light bulbs put in. Light will help make your trip safer.

Perform Necessary Repairs
If your car has any lingering issues, have them repaired before your trip. You don’t want to deal with a major auto repair on your journey. It can be with the car stalling, or it might struggle to start. Get it taken care of. Being in the middle of nowhere a thousand miles from home with a broken down vehicle is one of the worst feelings you never want to experience.

Update Your Proof of Insurance
Make sure that your current insurance cards are in your car before you leave. Failure to provide proof of insurance can result in a hefty traffic ticket. Insurance is easy to forget about and it can be costly. Your odds of getting a ticket or in an accident go up when you go on long road trips. Although you don’t want to be or think negative, it’s wise to plan for the unexpected.

Make a Budget
Setting a budget for your trip will help ensure that you have enough money. Use mobile apps to check on your accounts during your trip. Money will help make your trip successful and fun. Make sure you have it, and make sure you use it wisely.

Bring Cash
Along your journey, you may end up at a business that only takes cash. Having some extra cash will save you from emergency ATM stops. In rural communities along your path, you’ll be surprised how many businesses will not accept a credit card.  If you do find ATM’s they usually charge fees that will add up. It’s also possible to lose your credit card or have your credit card shut down because the credit card company sees transactions in unusual locations. Get cash from your local bank before you leave and enjoy your trip.

Plan Your Route
Planning your route will help you avoid delays and optimize your trip. Save your route to your smartphone or GPS unit to guide you on your journey. If you do your research before you leave you might discover a route that gets you to your destination in a quicker amount of time. The map technology online is incredible. Do your homework and map out a route.

Bring Paper Maps
If your GPS unit malfunctions, you may have trouble finding your destination. Occasionally the gps will go out on you so it’s good to have a backup plan. Take along some paper maps as a backup precaution. Paper maps will often times have more details added into the map compared to digital maps. This will help you if you think you’re lost.

Choose Stopping Points
Frequent breaks during road trips give you a chance to walk around and wake up your body. Plan to stop once every few hours for stretching, food and bathroom breaks. Stopping points are crucial for goal setting and road trip progress.

Plan Overnight Stops
If your drive includes overnight stops, plan your accommodations before you get on the road. If you have a room reserved, you won’t have to waste time looking for a motel with an open room.

Prepare Your Entertainment
The excitement of a long journey may begin to disappear after you’ve been driving for five hours. Bringing along entertainment, such as audiobooks, is essential to keeping your sanity. Music is motivating during these long trips and can make them more enjoyable.

Bring Snacks
You cannot always count on a gas station to carry your favorite snacks. Buy your food at your local grocery store to save money and time. Make them healthy and you’ll notice more energy and focus throughout the whole drive.

Pack Emergency Supplies
Unexpected weather can quickly stop your road trip. You can prepare for these conditions by packing extra water, blankets and other essentials. Anything is possible with emergencies, be wise.

Make an Emergency Plan
Anticipate possible emergencies that might come up during your trip. For example, if you have a chronic medical condition, make sure that you know where you can go to receive care if you need it.

Clean Your Car
Driving in a messy car makes it difficult to find important things, such as your map. Pack a paper bag to use as a trash container. Cleaning your car can help with your vision of the road. It will also help with your emotions.

Tell Someone of Your Plans
If you’re driving alone, give a family member your planned itinerary. Be sure to call home from time to time to check in. People get lost all of time and if no one knows the region you’re around it can be life threatening.

Charge Your Electronics
If you’re depending on your smartphone to provide music during your trip, you should charge it the night before you leave. Bring a car charger so that you can keep your devices working throughout your trip. There are car chargers that will have plug outlets for computers or tablets, those are ideal.

Plan Accordingly for Weather Conditions
If it’s winter time and you’re going into snow areas, make sure you plan for it. That might include using a vehicle that’s designed for the snow, or even just dressing warmer. If you’re going to an area that’s warm, plan for the sun to be a distraction. You might want to wear sunglasses that block out the sun when the sun is setting. The TR90 glasses are good for that. The sun can be blinding in some areas. Prepare with cooler clothing for the warm areas. The heat can be brutal.

Get Plenty of Sleep
On the night before your trip, make an effort to get to bed early so that you will feel rested and alert during your drive. Sleep will help you be happy. If you don’t sleep much and pull all-nighters, while driving you can experience some symptoms of depression. It’s worth the extra hotel costs at a cheap hotel. It will also help you be more aware on the road, which can protect you from accidents.

1 Comment
  1. Michael W Staib says

    Sage suggestions! Your perspicuous piece reminds me of my early days as the designated car-tographer (pun intended) precocious geography prodigy and map-reader assisting parents in our destination from Houston, TX to Bronx, NY (1,700 mile plus road trip)! Engaging piece! Thank you for all the invaluable, common-sense advice distilled with such innovative insight from your experience….Thank you for the reminiscence! 😀 Michael

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