For many Americans, nothing captures the spirit of summertime better than two words: Road trip! If you have plans to hit the highway in search of warm weather adventures, be sure you take some simple steps to ensure your travels are safe and satisfying.
Get a Trip Check
The small cost of a professional pre-trip inspection can keep you from being stranded on the road or temporarily trapped in a town that wasn’t on your itinerary. Your mechanic will check things like hoses and belts, fluid levels and wiper blades. They will also let you know if you are due for an oil change, tune-up, etc. Don’t put off these important services.
Double-Check Your Tires
Your trip check will likely include a tire inspection. Even so it’s wise to take another look just before you depart and at each fueling stop to confirm that your tires are holding the proper pressure and haven’t picked up any foreign objects that could result in a puncture or blowout. Also, be sure your spare tire is properly inflated.
Know Your Vehicle
If you will be traveling in a rented vehicle or even one that you’ve not owned for long, be sure to review things like how to turn on your hazard lights, where the spare tire and jack are, and the proper jacking points and procedure for changing a flat. An emergency is no time to be considering these things for the first time.
As you load up, be sure the luggage and gear inside your vehicle is stowed in a way that doesn’t interfere with the driver’s view of the road. If some of your load will be carried on the roof or elsewhere outside the vehicle, be sure it is safely secured and re-check it at each fueling stop.
Review Your Route
While GPS guidance from built-in systems and cell phones is fairly reliable, they can temporarily lose signal or malfunction. It’s a good idea to have a general sense of your route, including the availability of food and fuel if your travels will take you across long rural stretches. Having a paper map with you isn’t a bad idea either.
Bring Extra Food and Water
In addition to the snacks you plan to consume on your trip, bring extra food and water in case you find yourself stranded by car problems, severe weather, etc.
Set Reasonable Expectations
One of the things that makes road trips so enjoyable is that they are somewhat unpredictable. Build time into your travel plans for more traffic, more construction and more bathroom breaks than you would expect.
The open road is calling. Be sure to listen to your common sense before you answer. Happy trails…