The worst part of any road trip is when your plans begin to fall apart. Without proper planning, any road trip has the potential of turning into a disaster. Because of this, you should read this ultimate guide to road tripping.
Road tripping can be a fantastic experience for you, your family, or a group of friends. Whoever you are going with, you have to worry about the preparation phase and the pre-vehicle checklist. There are also a couple of things to be aware of while you are on the road. We will be discussing this in the below article.
Step One: Preparing For Your Road Trip
If you have ever been on a road trip, one of the most tedious parts is the preparation phase. After picking your destination, all of the other parts drag on, as new things always seem to pop up repeatedly. Below, we will provide you with a checklist that should help in making things easier.
Choosing Your Destination
The most exciting part of any road trip is the destination. In this case, this guide will be focusing on longer road trips. While shorter trips require a bit of preparation, an afternoon’s drive is much easier to manage than multiple days or weeks.
Your chosen destination should be attainable. Don’t pick a location that is clearly out of your budget. For longer road trips, try and see if you can find some attractions along the way.
“It’s not the destination. It’s the journey” is a statement that you have probably heard before. The same can be said about road trips, as the stops along the way might be just as memorable as the destination.
Plan Out Your Driving Time
One of the most important aspects of a road trip is the amount of time you spend behind the wheel. If you are spending six hours driving, that will not give you much time to enjoy anything.
Because of this, it is incredibly important to limit your driving time and plan for multiple stops along the way. Ask yourself how long you can tolerate concentrating on driving. If you can’t think of a limit, try and keep it below four hours.
Four hours gives you and your family ample time during the day to enjoy stops on the way. Also, don’t be afraid to ask your friends to take a shift or two. Concentrating on driving for multiple days at a time is stressful.
Utilize Google Maps or a similar navigation app to plan out your trip. Always overestimate these numbers, as those applications don’t account for changing conditions.
Create A Budget
If you have planned out far enough ahead, you can start to save for your vacation destination today. You can set aside a couple of hundred dollars of $20 per month. Whatever you choose, have your money ready by the time your vacation starts.
Much like with trip times, it is better to overestimate the amount you need. If you don’t have an emergency fund set aside for breaking down, you may wish to save up for that instead of your vacation.
When you create a budget for food, gas, and entertainment, you don’t have to worry about having enough. With joy, research the cost of any potential stops you make along the way.
With gas, take that “four hours a day” requirement and multiply the number of days. Apply that to your MPG and use Google Maps to determine how many miles it typically takes for you to go four hours.
With food, try and diet yourself in such a way where you are only eating snacks when you need it. Purchase enough to replace at least one to two meals a day. Try to avoid junk if you can, but that can be difficult for long trips.
You may want to stop at a restaurant each time you reach your next destination. However, doing so will deplete any budget you created.
Unless you are going on a restaurant tour of the surrounding towns, you will want to bring along some snacks that will last with you throughout the days. It prevents you from spending needless money.
Getting A Rental Car? Check With Your Insurance
If you plan on flying to a destination to trip from, you will not be bringing your car with you. Instead, you will want to shop around for rental agencies at your first stop.
After finding the most reasonable rate, many people have a series of questions on whether they are covered. They may also have questions about their friends behind covered.
Call your insurance company with this list of questions for them:
- Am I covered if I drive a rental car?
- Is my friend covered if he drives the same rental car?
- What happens if I get into an accident in the rental car?
- Is there anything that is not covered while driving the rental car?
Typically speaking, insurance companies have a statement that allows for temporary coverage for non-owned vehicles. However, your friends will likely have to seek that same amount of coverage from their insurance company.
Also, most auto policies do not include coverage for diminished value, loss of use, and administrative fees needed during an accident. Even if the auto policy says your covered, you may wish to purchase coverage from the rental agency.
While it seems like overkill, doing so can prevent a long legal battle. If you have rental coverage, they typically send you off with a new vehicle or no legal issues.
Download Applications For Your Phone
Road tripping today is undoubtedly different from road tripping a couple of decades ago. As a result, you are going to want to download a few applications for entertainment and usefulness.
Check out these suggestions below:
|Music||Spotify, Pandora, Apple Music|
|Navigation||Google Maps, Apple Maps, Waze|
|Event and things to do||Google Trips, Eventbrite, Roadtripper|
|Hotel/stay||AirBnB, Booking.com, Hotels.com|
|Parking||The Parking Spot, Parkopedia|
|Checklist||Evernote, Google Keep, Wunderlist|
|Weather||Accuweather, Weather Bug, The Weather Channel|
All of the apps and websites above are different options to make your trip easier. You don’t have to use all of them, just some of them to help you on your way.
Create An Actual Checklist
People are always underestimating the ability to have good organizational skills. In this case, making a checklist ensures that you have done everything you can do done.
It doesn’t matter if you use an application or otherwise, but be sure that you check off everything you have thoroughly checked on your list. Don’t be afraid to leave room for notes, as something can always come up.
Step Two: Checking Your Car
Because checking your car can be a very involved process, it deserves a separate section. Follow these tips to check your vehicle before your road trip.
- Check your oil
- Check your fluids
- Verify that your electrical components are working
- Check your brakes
- Check your tires
- Clean your car
- Have a trusted professional check things
- Check your insurance
- Have an emergency roadside kit
While it should seem obvious, none of these are necessary if you don’t plan on using your vehicle.
Below, we will get into the details.
If your oil is darker and is not the typical golden, brown color, it may be time to replace it. Long trips can be demanding on a car, so ensuring that you have high-quality oil is paramount to extending the life of your vehicle.
I’m always a fan of keeping an extra quart of your oil in the trunk should something occur. If you need a guide on what you should expect from your oil, check out the video below:
Check your fluids
Check all of your fluid containers. Be sure that they are all topped off before you go. Check your car’s suggested maintenance schedule on fluid flushes. Most vehicles do not acquire them.
Check Your Lights And Other Electrical Components
Check to see that all of your lights are functioning. If any of them seem dim, clean the headlight, or replace the bulb inside.
Don’t be afraid to purchase a spare set of fuses should you need to make a replacement on the road.
Check Your Breaks
Check your breaks to see if they are making any unusual noises. If they are squealing, have them checked by a professional before taking any trips.
Check Your Tires
Check your tire pressure to be sure it meets the requirements of your owner’s manual. You can also take the opportunity to check the spare tire for the same pressure.
Check the tread on your tires to be sure you do not need to make any replacements. You can do this using the penny method, where you insert it torso-side down. If you can see the top of Lincoln’s head, it’s time to replace your tires.
You may also need a tire rotation, which you can check by speaking with a trusted professional.
Have A Trusted Mechanic Check Your Car
If possible, it might be time to call in a favor for your uncle to check out your car. If your uncle isn’t a mechanic, reach out to another trusted professional that has proven themselves.
Some mechanics may attempt to use this as an opportunity to make an easy buck, but this is why you need to speak to someone you trust.
Check Your Insurance
While we have mentioned this before regarding rentals, it is important to understand the limits of your insurance while taking a long trip. Specifically, check with the limitation of your rental reimbursement and roadside assistance coverage.
Rental reimbursement is the amount of time you have a replacement vehicle while waiting for yours to finish repairs. Many times you have a per day/maximum limit, but this depends upon your state.
Roadside assistance helps you regardless of you being in an accident. If you get a flat tire or your battery dies, this is your backup option. Many roadside assistance plans have mileage limitations.
You may also ask about what happens during an accident. Below is a checklist of remaining coverages to be aware of:
- Bodily Injury and Property Damage Liability covers your assets in the event the accident is your fault. It pays out your legal liability for medical payments and damage to the other person’s property.
- Uninsured Motorist Bodily Injury And Property Damage covers you if the other party does not have adequate insurance to cover your injuries.
- Comprehensive (All But Collision) covers miscellaneous damages, excluding collision with other cars, trees, or stationary objects.
- Collision covers anything but hitting an animal, as the animal is typically under comprehensive.
Both comprehensive and collision are subject to your deductible. If you are wondering what you can do to stay safe during a roadside breakdown, check out the video below:
Have An Emergency Roadside Kit
Having an emergency kit that will help you out during a snowstorm of a flat tire is helpful. You never know when you are going to be in a location without cell service.
Try and include the following:
- Drinking water
- First-aid kit
- A tool kit
Step Three: Things To Keep In Mind While On The Road
So you’ve followed through everything on this entire checklist and still feel like your missing something? It’s only natural. Things are always going to be left behind. Check out this “on the road” section for some tips to keep in mind while driving.
While it may seem obvious, one thing that you may be forgetting about is stretching out. You may want to focus on getting to the next destination, but you aren’t going to want to walk around if you feel stiff.
If you plan on much longer road trips, don’t be afraid to stop once or twice to remind yourself that you have legs. Being uncomfortable for a couple of days won’t make this an enjoyable experience.
If you have downloaded Waze or Google Maps, the system will likely avoid toll roads for you. However, technology doesn’t always work with our initial assumptions, so be sure to check in on that.
If you are willing to take toll routes, be sure to have a variety of change ready. Some tolls will only accept exact change, which could charge you with tickets later.
Don’t Drink The Water.
Depending on how far away you drive, the local water supply has a unique list of germs and viruses. Because of this, you may want to avoid drinking the water if you have driven away far enough.
If you are driving between towns in your state, this is not going to be an issue for you. Still, bottled water is a good idea to bring with you. Always stay hydrated.
Carry Important Documents
Always have your driver’s license, auto insurance card, health insurance card, medical information, and emergency contact information on hand. If an accident occurs, they will know who to contact should something happen.
Check The Weather
Be sure to pack clothing that is appropriate for the weather you might be approaching. If you download an application, you will be able to check the temperature on the fly.
If a severe storm is approaching you, you may consider delaying your plans until the storm passes.
Road tripping can be a fun experience if you let it, but the amount of stuff you need to do can leave you feeling overwhelmed. By following this guide, it should help you get an excellent start on your list.
You can start by producing your checklist using the items on this list as an example. Be sure to have your car ready and keep in mind that your preparation will make your driving experience much better.