Summer road trips can be some of the best parts of summer – making memories that will last a lifetime. Now while I would recommend being spontaneous on your journey, there are some things you should prepare for to make the experience smoother.
Get Your Car a Check-Up –
Take your car in for routine maintenance check up before you head out on the road – tune-up, oil change, repair/replace tires, replace windshield wipers, and top off all fluids. Make sure your spare is in good shape, the battery is strong and has clean terminals, and have your routers and break pads checked. Make sure you have some jumper cables, and spare coolant and wiper fluid on hand.
Be Prepared –
Besides your suitcase be sure to pack things you will need during your time on the road; change and dollar bills for toll roads, a backup credit card for emergencies, battery back up (I have one for my car battery and my phone battery) bags to use for garbage, wet wipes, antibacterial soap, paper towels, a spare car key (you can even use those little magnetic key boxes and attach it under your hood or near your tire or truck to be able to access it in case you get locked out), a cooler to carry bottled water and other drinks and snacks (this will help you save, you can pick up snacks at Walmarts or other grocery stores along the way instead of spending double or more on snacks at the gas station) bring a real life map (for those areas your GPS doesn’t work) and speaking of GPS use a stand-alone GPS unit so you can use your phone for music and other good stuff during the trip. Don’t forget blankets, pillows, hoodies and socks in case you end up needing to catch some Z’s in the car in between hotel stops.
Let Family Know Your Location –
Though spontaneity is good, being cautious is better. Check in with family and friends along the way and let them know what’s going on, where you are headed and what your plans are. Actually even better have your family download the Life360 app which allows you to track each other in real-time. We used this when my husband was an OTR truck driver, and when my oldest daughter went on a school trip to D.C. (This is actually a really great app to use with your kids) but even for adults who are traveling a lot. If you don’t want real-time tracking, at least give a family member your find your iPhone or Google login and have your GPS location on at all times so if there is an emergency they can at least have a better chance of finding where you are.
Join a Roadside Assistance Club –
No matter which one you join, just join! Most Roadside Programs offer trip interruption that will actually pay to put you up in hotels if your car breaks down during a road trip. Not to mention of course, if you actually need roadside help. You don’t necessarily want to just call a random company because you never know what might happen (or if they might price gouge you) so leaving that to the professionals is a good idea. (I’d even recommend upgrading to the best package they have for your trip – better safe than sorry!)
Take the Exit!
Have you ever been driving and see signs for 5 or 6 exits announcing some cool local shop, or roadside stand, or famous landmark and because you are trying to get to Point A to Point B as soon as possible you never stop? My husband is the worst for this, we routinely travel from Ohio to Maine to visit his family and travel over 1,200 miles one way! He will NEVER EVER stop for any of the awesome things we see along the way because he wants to just get there (or just get home – it’s the truck driver in him) but trust me STOP! You could miss out on something awesome. I remember stopping at the silliest store off an exit in Florida and my sister and I found these visors that had battery operated fans in them. It was the coolest souvenir I ever had, and I kept it until it didn’t work anymore (and I very well might of bought a alligator claw back scratcher too!) Look for those signs for “worlds largest” too. ALWAYS some good entertainment and you never know what you might find!
Talk to Locals –
I wouldn’t recommend chatting it up at that little gas station in the tiny town that looks like something out of a creeper movie. But ask gas station attendants , or restaurant workers about cool local attractions and mom & pop restaurants that are popular in the area – you never know when you might find a great hidden gem!
This post is sponsored by Lonestar Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram.