How Do I Get Ready for a Long Road trip?
Getting behind the wheel and hitting the open road has always instilled a sense of freedom and adventure in us Americans. And although not all road trips are based on the notion of freeing yourself from the daily grind, who wants to focus on long journeys on the asphalt for work reasons? So even if you’re gearing up for a long road trip that’s work related, just pretend that you’re hitting the open road with an open heart and in search of adventure.
Brakes & Battery
When on the road, it’s easy to just hit the gas and go. But it’s also important that you have the ability to stop. This being so, get your brakes checked by a certified mechanic prior take off. There’s a lot more than brake pads that come into play when stopping your couple-thousand-pound vehicle, such as calipers, the master cylinder, and the fluid/brake lines, so have a professional look at these. It’s also important to get your battery tested, especially during the colder months. The CarAdvise app makes it easy to find shops near you that can perform these tests.
It’s also necessary to check all fluids, including the oil, washer fluid, brake fluid, radiator/antifreeze (for those winter wonderland voyages, sorry I had to mention winter again), power steering, and transmission. Even if you’ve recently changed the oil, be sure to check the levels prior to leaving and it may be a good idea to have a spare quart in the trunk just in case you need a top off.
Making sure your lights are in proper working order not only keeps you safe, but also keeps your fellow travelers safe. At some point in our lives we’ve all been cutoff by the non-working turn signal driver, or surprised by the inexistent brakes lights ahead of us, so don’t be that person. It’s a quick and easy step that you can do at home prior to leaving. If any bulbs need to be replaced, it’s typically a very inexpensive fix.
Check both the tread depth and the pressure for all of your tires. Under inflated tires will result in poor gas mileage and can increase the possibility that a blowout will occur. And don’t forget about the spare, because if you get a flat and your spare is also deflated, it won’t help you very much.
Windows & Windshield
This one is pretty simple. The windshield is the window into the road’s soul…okay, scratch that. But you do need clean windows in order to safely get to where you’re going. Makes sure all of your glass is clean and check your wiper blades. They’ll do no good during the monsoon if they’re shredded. These are very inexpensive steps that can have a huge impact on the overall safety of your vehicle.
While we hope that you’ll never need to use this item, it’s always best to be prepared. This being so, be sure to pack an emergency kit that can be kept in your trunk even after the journey has been completed. This pack should contain such items as a flashlight, road flare, first aid kit, collapsible cones, a blanket, jumper cables, and even snacks and water. It’s always a mystery of how long you’ll need to wait for your savior (aka, the tow truck) in the event you get stranded, so be prepared for anything.
Personal Prep & Provisions
Your vehicle won’t simply take you to your destination if you’re not in complete control. And yes, we know that autonomous vehicles are here, but staying with the spirit of a true road trip, we’ll ignore those for now. Prior to embarking on your voyage it’s vital that you are well rested, well fed, and have a good mindset. Even if the destination is nothing your excited about reaching (i.e. Corporate Conference), don’t stress while on the road.
And what kind of a road trip doesn’t entail refreshments and good music? These not only make the trip more enjoyable, because who doesn’t like to snack, but they also help keep you alert. Just be sure to avoid the combination of heavy meals(burgers & fries) and the smooth sounds of Kenny G. Though both are great in their own right, they’re not the best recipe for keeping you alert during an extended road trip.