Once you’ve made absolutely certain that your vehicle is in the near factory condition that it needs to be in for a long road trip, go ahead and stock it up with some items that’ll not only make your life on the road far easier, but provide you with peace of mind, wherever you go.
Maps & Guidebooks:
Even if you’re taking a GPS, be sure to take a few maps as backup. You can’t always rely on what a GPS tells you, especially if you haven’t updated it in awhile. And if it dies, who knows when or if it’ll be charged enough to turn back on. And then there’s that thing they often do where they just can’t seem to connect to the satellite and provide decent directions. Do you see where we’re going with this? We’re not saying you’ll get lost, but it never hurts to have a map along to check your course. And if you’re in an area that you’ve never been, guidebooks may be able to point out some great attractions that you may otherwise have missed. Even if you don’t think you’ll need them, pack them just in case and save yourself a ton of headache and frustration.
You don’t have to go out and buy one of those satellite phones and keep it in your car at all times, but you should always have a cellphone and charger in your vehicle for emergencies. Maybe buy a cheap one and load some minutes onto it and keep it in your car in case of emergencies; that way you know it’s always there, charged and ready to go in case all of your hard preparation was for nought and you’ve broken down anyway.
Extra Fuses & Oil:
Even if you’ve done all that you can, taken all of the necessary precautions along the way, trouble can still sprout from nowhere and throw you off guard. It isn’t that hard to find a little space in your trunk for some extra fuses and at least a quart of motor oil. And given that oil shortages and blown fuses are common causes of roadside frustration, you’ll be glad you did.
In the spirit of precautionary travel, be prepared to circumvent any and all foreseeable troubles. Your kit should contain jumper cables, a knife, a flashlight, a multipurpose tool, tire sealant, and duct tape. You’ll also want to carry an emergency kit for travelers as well, with everything from antiseptic and bandages to aspirin and motion sickness aids.
Music, Games, Snacks:
While not really a necessity, you don’t want to make your road trip a chore. You want the drive to be part of the adventure, or else you most likely wouldn’t be driving at all. Pack some travel games for your passengers, movies (if your vehicle does that sort of thing), and enough snacks to keep you from having to stop at every roadside diner and fast food joint along the way.
Try to have a mechanic check over your vehicle about two weeks before your planned trip. By doing this, you assure that there is ample time to fix anything that needs fixing and adjust anything that needs adjusting. All you really need to worry about after that is making sure that you’ve packed enough clothing, and of course the short list of precautionary items above. Make sure that everyone and everything in your vehicle is secured at all times; you don’t want water bottles rolling under your seat and getting stuck under the brake pedal, or someone flying through the windshield in the event of an accident.
Always, always, always come with a backup plan. If something really does happen to your car on a road trip, have the number of your insurance agent and a great roadside assistance company on hand. Or know where to locate a tow company and rental car facility, in the event that you have to ditch your own ride. A great way to kiss your road trip worries goodbye is to invest in a AAA membership.
This checklist is going to pay for itself without you ever knowing it. I mean, you didn’t pay for it, but you get the idea, right? Not only are you going to be able to drive away confident, without the fear of having your vacation ruined by a prolonged visit to an auto shop you don’t know, but the money you’ve already put into precautionary work will save you a ton, even if you do find yourself in need of repairs. Sometimes, bad things happen; especially on the road. But that doesn’t mean that your trip has to be ruined. With a little time, a little elbow grease, maybe a small stack of cash, you can lean back and enjoy your drive as much as your destination.
New Rochelle Roadside Assistance
177 East Main Street, Suite 138, New Rochelle, NY 10801