With the weather warming up and summer months getting closer, people are beginning to think about taking a road trip. Whether going across the country or staying close to home, a little bit of planning will make the trip a success. The following tips will help you get on your way.
1. Perform Routine Maintenance
Before leaving on a trip, make sure your vehicle is in good working condition. Simple things you can do at home will prevent big hassles on the road and are well worth examining before you head out on the highway. Here are some of the most important do-it-yourself maintenance routines.
– Check fluids such as oil, transmission, power steering, coolant, and windshield washer fluid. Top off any that are low.
– Check all belts and hoses for evidence of wear and tear. Look for any cracks, leaking, or loose clamps. These parts are inexpensive and easy to replace.
– Check the tires for correct air pressure. The most accurate pressure reading can be obtained before the vehicle has been driven when it’s still cold. That is because when air warms it expands.
– Check the tires for any bald spots, bulges or uneven tread wear. If the tread is uneven it indicates the need for an alignment. Be sure to do the same checks on the spare tire as well.
– Schedule any necessary oil changes or tune-ups that you may have been putting off. These can help improve gas mileage.
2. Bring Maps or GPS
Nothing puts a damper on a road trip like getting lost. It not only wastes time and gas, but it also adds unnecessary stress and tension between travelers. Having a GPS is a huge benefit when driving nowadays. In fact, many new vehicles like the Toyota Prius for example, actually come with built in navigation systems. It gives turn-by-turn directions, shows the locations of gas stations, restaurants, and hotels, and includes the addresses of many tourist attractions. There are some things it doesn’t take into consideration though. Construction, detours, and heavy traffic are some of these things that could cause unforeseeable delays. There can also be technical difficulties or out-of-date information. That’s why it’s usually a good idea to bring a map as well for backup.
3. Have an Emergency Kit
You should always carry an emergency kit in your car even if you’re not going on a road trip. You never know when you might need it. Here are some good items to include:
– non-perishable food
– bottled water
– a flashlight with extra batteries
– a first-aid kit
– a blanket
– a small tool kit
– jumper cables
– a jack
4. Bring Current Paperwork
Check the glove compartment to see if you have your current registration, insurance information, and phone numbers for roadside assistance. Remember to have print-outs of relevant travel arrangements such as hotel confirmations, phone numbers, and addresses.
Take a few moments to consider comfort while planning your road trip. This is especially important when traveling with kids. Bring along a cooler of snacks and drinks. Bring activities to keep the kids entertained. Have your favorite music handy. Don’t forget to charge your electronics, and pack the chargers where you can access them.
6. Pack Light
Take some time before the trip to clean out the car. Remove the kid’s toys, garbage, and any items that are taking up space. Pack only what you need. Overloading and placing items on top of the car will decrease the gas mileage.
If a road trip is in your future, take some time to prepare and the effort will be worth it.
Gary Murdock is a
travel enthusiast and a contributing writer for BuyAToyota.com, where you can check out the latest deals on the Toyota Prius