Road Trip Precautions That Make or Break a Successful Trip

If you’re going on a road trip in your own car, you need to prepare more than just a packing list. You also need to take a few road trip precautions that can make or break this journey. It’s easy to take for granted a vehicle that easily gets us to work and weekend shopping—but is your vehicle prepared for a trip of several hundred miles? Are you going to a region with wildly different climates? When’s the last time you had a diagnostics check, anyway?

Preparing for a road trip means making sure your mode of transportation is up to the task. For starters, if you’re leasing a vehicle, double check that the trip won’t put you over your miles limit. It might be safer and more affordable to rent a car. However, if you’re taking an owned vehicle, make sure these precautions are ticked off your to-do list:

Take your vehicle for a check-up

This check-up from a trusted mechanic should be performed annually, but if you can’t remember the last time it was in the shop, schedule the maintenance check now. When you perform maintenance regularly, you catch problems early. This makes them easier to fix and more affordable. If your mechanic spots an issue, you’ll have time to get it repaired before your big trip. This is also the time to get the oil changed.

Get your storage space organized

You might have a perfectly packed suitcase, but what’s the state of your trunk and other storage space? Now is the time to invest in some car storage containers to help keep you neat and tidy on your trip. If you’ve been thinking of adding cargo space to the roof, now might be the time to get that taken care of.

Indulge in a mini detailing

It’s nearly guaranteed that your car will be needing a little TLC when you return from your trip, but that doesn’t mean you have to suffer through a dirty car during your getaway. Mini detailings can be very affordable, or you can do them yourself. A clean, vacuumed car helps get you in road trip mood and will encourage you to keep it tidy throughout.

Download an app for affordable gas

Apps like GasBuddy help you easily find the cheapest gas on the go. You might also want to download apps for roadside attractions, hotels, and dining. Saving money on gas is one of the simplest things you can do on a road trip. If you’re traveling with little ones, you can also put them in charge of finding the next gas stop or attraction.

Have car games at the ready

Maybe it’s a physical game designed for car use, or maybe it’s a list of your favorite car games. If you’re traveling with others, make it a point to avoid technology as much as you can. Going back to old-school car games is a great way to bond and pass the time

Get your tires rotated and/or changed

Les Schwab checks tire tread for free—and even rotates tires at no charge. Blown out tires are costly and dangerous. The last thing you want is to deal with getting new tires while you’re on the go. It can be a bit of a splurge, but you’ll need them eventually. This goes double if you’ll be driving in snowy or icy conditions.

Necessary documents and emergency kits

Double check the expiration on your insurance cards and ensure you have a first-aid kit and car emergency kit packed. This includes jumper cables as well as solar-powered chargers for all your devices (you can keep them charging on the dash as you drive). Water, flares, and some high-protein snacks are also a necessity.

Part of the fun in planning a road trip is the planning stage itself. Now is the time to make sure your car is as safe as it can be. Items like first-aid kits can be kept in the car permanently, so make this a time to get your car kitted out for every future adventure.

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Are you soon to be taking a road trip? Make sure to read our essential checklist before hitting the road so you're prepared for any eventuality.

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