Road trips can be an awesome time, enjoying the drive, seeing spectacular sites, and visiting unusual places. Or, they can be absolute disasters. What happens to you depends on how prepared you are for the journey. Let’s get you there, with this quick guide to a successful road trip.
Maintaining your vehicle might seem like a no-brainer, but many drivers do neglect their vehicles. A few days before getting on the road, stop and take a serious look at your vehicle. Is it time to change the oil and filters? Do it. How does the coolant look? Change it if it is dark and smells bad. Does the vehicle drip anywhere? If so, take it in for inspection. Check the tires to see if they are at the proper inflation level. If not, add air, and don’t forget the spare. Does it pull if you let go of the wheel? It might need an alignment. Is it making any unusual sounds? Have it checked out. Even if you do all your own maintenance, a tech inspection at a local dealer might be worth the small expense, just for the peace of mind. You really do not want to stop in the middle of nowhere on a narrow shoulder, when all it would have taken is a little preventative maintenance.
Alright, so you’re driving from Little Rock to Los Angeles? Easy, hop on I-40 west and take it all the way, right? Well, road trips are a little more involved than that. Check your route ahead of time so you know what to expect. If the route shows toll roads, bring small bills, or plan a route that avoids them. Try to depart at a time when you can avoid congestion in morning & afternoon rush hours of the major cities on your route. Also see if there is any major construction going on, and add travel time, or avoid as needed. Finally, road trips are boring if you drive straight through. Take a moment to see what is along the route. Who knows, you might be just a short drive from the world’s largest prairie dog!
Driving a boring base model economy car? Fear not, as even the most basic car can be dressed up to become a livable place to spend a few days. First, clean out that interior. No one wants to ride in a stinky car. Then, bring a GPS. Getting lost is no fun, so make sure the maps are updated. Bring a large supply of music, as sometimes -especially out west- you might be out of radio range. If there are kids in the back seats, bring their portable game systems or DVD players. If you have a power inverter, they won’t need to burn through batteries. If you regularly go on road trips with adult passengers consider a mobile Wi-Fi hotspot generator. They aren’t cheap, but will let your friends Instagram your annoyed face as often as they like. And never forget the snacks, drinks and pillows.
Last, remember that road trips are different than the daily grind of commuting. Have fun and take it easy out there.