Whether you're embarking on a three-day trip into the next state, or a three-week cross-country journey, a five-star road trip requires a keen balance of spontaneity and advanced planning.
To help with your road trip, heed the following advice before switching into Kerouac-mode:
- Make sure your vehicle is in sound working order - a cracked timing belt could be the difference between a great road trip and a hellish nightmare. Have your vehicle inspected before pulling out of the driveway. Or, do it yourself if mechanically inclined. Check the lights, directionals, wiper blades, and fluid levels and closely inspect the belts and hoses for wear and tear.
- Check that you have a fully intact car jack. A flat tire is not the time to discover you have a car jack but no lug wrench.
- Carefully examine the spare tire, ensuring that it's fully inflated and the treads are in good condition.
- Organize an emergency kit stocked with: bottled water, first aid items (band aids, gauze pads, sterile pads), rain jacket, blanket, lightsticks or flashlight, pocket knife, and one or two energy bars. Pack only essentials. The more compact, the easier it is to store.
- Check that your mobile phone is in sound working order. Also, be aware if your provider charges roaming fees. If roaming fees are a concern, consider using a phone card.
- Carry either a road atlas or a GPS device. If you know your route, check ahead for possible construction delays. Department of Transportation websites are great sources for road information, providing construction updates, weather forecasts and sometimes live webcams. Check out more on 511 Traffic Systems.
- Peace of mind is a good thing to have on the road. Subscribe with a car club that offers roadside assistance. If your vehicle breaks down 700 miles from home, its comforting to have access to a list of trusted mechanics and towing companies.
- Download road apps. GasBuddy, for example, directs you to the cheapest gas prices along your route.
- If you intend on camping, call ahead and inquire about reservations. This is especially important if you're traveling during holiday weekends.
- Anticipate rush hour traffic when traveling through major cities. Either alter your route, or change your timing so as to drive through during late morning or early afternoon.
- Make sure you're carrying all important driving documents: proof of car insurance, vehicle registration. and driver's license.
- Be aware of state texting and cell phone laws.
- Make sure all traffic tickets are paid. The cleaner the driving record the better for you if stopped.
Do you have any road trip tips of your own? Share your experiences with our community by leaving a comment below.