Getting ready for a road trip can be incredibly exciting. You will get to enjoy the open road, new sights, landmarks, and adventures with your friends. Before you hit the road, though, there are a few important things you want to consider. Doing so will set you up for success and improve your overall experience.
Your Auto Insurance Coverage
Start by considering your auto insurance. There are a few important things to pay attention to here. Assuming you will not be the only person to get behind the wheel, take the time to call your insurance to add the other people as authorized drivers on your policy. This will ensure that everything is covered if you happen to get into an accident on the road.
You should also check if your insurance has roadside assistance and where that coverage applies. For example, USAA auto insurance offers roadside assistance as part of its coverage. If you don’t currently have roadside assistance on your policy and your insurance company offers it, go ahead and add it. Otherwise, you may want to sign up for a third-party roadside assistance service.
Your Car’s Condition – Give It Some TLC
Take the time to confirm that your car is in good condition and ready for a road trip. You may already have caught up with regular maintenance, but it is still smart to bring your car to your mechanic and ask for an inspection. Let them know you are going on a road trip and want to make sure everything is fully functional.
Some specific components to check include the brakes, tires, battery, air conditioning, spare tire (and jack), and electrical components. Confirm you have your car’s emergency kit in the trunk. If you plan on bringing a lot of stuff on your road trip, this is also the time to confirm your car’s load recommendations. This will prevent damaging your car and boost fuel efficiency.
When it comes to your route, there are several aspects you want to consider before you hit the road. Start by making a loose plan of what you want to see but do so with the expectation that there can be changes. Part of the fun of a road trip is being spontaneous, but you still want a plan. Ideally, you want to make a list of things you want to do and see and those you would like to if there’s time. This will let you prioritize your time. As you travel, be sure to ask locals for suggestions as well.
As you plan the route, think about how much time you want to spend in the car driving every day. Everyone is different. While some people can drive for 10 hours a day without an issue, others can only handle six. You should also decide what time of the day you prefer to drive. Some people like to start well before dawn, while others prefer to sleep in then drive into the evening.
It is also wise to take a look at your map options. Yes, you will have a smartphone with Google Maps and a GPS, but remember that these aren’t always that accurate in smaller towns or on back roads. If you can, grab some physical maps as a backup.
Your Music or Entertainment
Few people like to just sit in silence as they drive, especially on a long road trip. This is also a recipe for falling asleep at the wheel, which could put you at serious risk. Having some entertainment is the perfect way to avoid this. Just make sure your entertainment won’t distract you from keeping an eye on the road.
The best options are things you can listen to while driving, from audiobooks to music to podcasts. You can also plan some in-car activities or games that you and your passengers will play, such as telling stories.
Remember to pack some entertainment for passengers as well. If you are going on a family road trip with kids, bring entertainment for the children in addition to encouraging them to bring their own.
One of the best ways to avoid overspending on your road trip is to plan your budget ahead of time. Ensure that you and the others you are traveling with are in agreement about a general price range.
You will also want to make major decisions that will affect your budget ahead of time. For example, do you want to bring sandwich-making supplies to keep costs low, or do you plan on stopping for meals? When you stop for meals, will it be at fast-food restaurants, fine dining, or something in between? No matter your plans, you should always bring along some snacks and water.
This applies to accommodation as well. Do you want to camp or stay in a hotel? If you’re camping, make sure to bring your gear.