Tires, battery, and oil! Oh My!
It sounds like common sense but how many time have you seen a car or van off on the side of the road and the hood is open. Now I try to stop and help if I am just commuting to work or out and about running errands and the person I stop to help says “My radiator coolant is low” or “My oil light came on a while back…” I think the easiest way to have a bit of piece of mind is to check all the fluids, get the air to the right pressure in the tires (accounting for the added weight of luggage and supplies), while filling and checking the tires look for signs of wear, tread depth, etc. Take a look at the belts for wear or fraying, and check and clean the battery. Change your wiper blades and look for items that may need to be cleaned (Mirrors, rear glass, headlamps). Simple and easy to do, so Vehicle preparation is one of the main topics of preparing for a road trip.
Roads, high traffic and weather check:
Construction, floods and bad drivers…
Road repair is a summertime nightmare… good weather means the best time to repair, resurface or widen the roads that have been beaten up all winter. Go on line and get the latest road reports for the states you plan on traveling. Check the weather for potential bad weather days and forecasts. Spring and summer storms move fast and when they do hit, roads can be a mess cause lengthy delays and unplanned stops. It has been said a million times… when the holiday weekends hit the number of drivers make it feel like the 300 cars in front of you are going to the same destination you are but with a snails pace… be patient, travel on the off peak days, take the more untraveled scenic route.
Supplies and maps:
Bullets, Beans and Band-aids!
Now I know it isn’t a military movement for your road trip, but go prepared. A few tools, some food and water and a first aid kit are not to hard to add to the trunk or back seat in a small backpack. This definitely adds to the prep time by gathering all the basic stuff, but it is a life saver in the unlikely and unlucky event that something does happen on the road. Carry an extra bottle of motor oil, have some spare bulbs for your tail/turn lights and maybe even a belt for the water pump and alternator. A one hour fix on the side of a deserted road is definitely better than waiting for a tow to the next town that might not even have the parts. Have a few simple maps printed out of your planned route, and actually look at them. the GPS talking to you is good, but you are better at driving safely if you already know where you are going.
Music, sleep and road fatigue…
Get lots of sleep before heading out on a long road trip, take breaks often and stretch. Stay hydrated and have fun… it is a road trip after all… the destination is there but the journey can sometimes be half the fun. Good music, good conversation and a feeling of the open road is a magical time. Stay aware of your driving position. Good posture ensures your alert and staying comfortable.
What is some of your items you check or carry when going on a road trip? Having any tips from your experiences? Please share!