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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Getting Ready for Your Next Road Trip

When you travel on a budget, it can be necessary to skip the airport and load up the car instead. While road trips haven't always been the money-saving opportunities they are today, you can be happy to know that no matter how long your road trip is or how far you go, you will probably never spend $188,000 on one like the very first cross-country road trip. Not only was it uncomfortable, but it was the worst return on investment for a bet ever. So, no matter what goes wrong, remember, it could always be worse. We're going to focus on the positives though.
Summer may be winding down, but that doesn't mean that road trip opportunities are over. In fact, I have always found that late Summer and Fall is the best time to travel in a car, because it's still nice out, roads are a bit less crowded and it's nice to get out and stretch in the sun and sit to eat outside in a cool breeze. Before you head out on your next road trip though, you want to make sure your car is in the best shape it can be in, because breaking down on the side of the highway over something that could have been prevented does not make for a fun trip.



Now, I know the very basic of car maintenance. I can check my oil and put air in my tires (though I never do it right, so that my low tire goes off. I either put too much or not enough in, I guess), but that's about it. It's always smart to go get your car checked out before your trip. A licensed professional, like one at Advanced Auto Parts, can do this for you, but they can also show you how to check it yourself, so you know when to come in and get the replacement parts you need. 

I've gotten up before and had an issue with my car starting. I finally got it going and my husband and I went off to do our normal Saturday routine. On the way home, we stopped to get gas and then it wouldn't start again. Boo! Lucky for me, there was a nice guy who helped push the car away from the pumps and gave us a jump for us to drive straight to the service center. Turns out my battery just gave up. If I had known better, I could have checked it before I left home, or gone to get it checked by a professional. Before the last year or so, I really didn't know how to jump a car, but it's not that difficult once a friend of mine and I put our heads together to give her car a jump from mine. If you aren't quite sure how it works, Advanced Auto Parts made this great video to help you do it right and safely, and not get a horrible shock:



My last car wasn't the greatest. It was a used car that I bought off a family member. It ran and got me to work and anywhere else I needed to go, which was what I cared about at the time. It took us on several decent road trips without breaking down, which is always a bonus. Near the time I knew I would need to replace it, the brakes weren't doing so well. If it's taking a little more pressure than needed to stop your car or you hear some squealing when you slow down, those aren't good things. You don't want to find out your brakes are shot when you're in the middle of nowhere. Just because I read about how to slow down a car on the highway when your brakes fail, doesn't mean I want to have to use that information. Make sure you know when to get yours replaced:


Don't forget to check important fluids, because there's nothing worse than ignoring crucial maintenance and then ending up either broken down, overheated or doing irreparable damage to something that then cost hundreds or thousands of dollars to replace, making your road trip totally not budget-friendly by the end. You can check all your car's fluids yourself, so you know what needs to be taken care of before you head out...and remember, keep a large bottle of water (a two-liter or gallon jug) in your trunk for emergencies:



Even though you have taken care of the important things, that doesn't mean that something unfortunate still won't happen, like a flat tire or something equally annoying. Be prepared by making sure you have your emergency kit in the trunk. If you don't have one, you should make sure you get one that has the essentials in it, in case you break down or otherwise need to call attention to your unmoving car. Things that you should keep in your kit are:
  • Flares -- Make sure you keep yourself and other drivers safe by alerting them to your situation.
  • Hazard Triangle
  • Jack, because you aren't He-Man and need some help holding the car up to change a tire.
  • Lug Wrench
  • Jumper cables -- Just because you can get a stranger to help you, doesn't mean they have the necessary equipment.
  • Flashlight -- You can't always see in the dark or find things easily in the trunk, even during the day. That fancy headlamp you have at home is perfect for this.
  • Rags or Paper Towels -- It's just nice to not ruin your clothes, especially when you've packed light to save space. This is also where antibacterial wipes come in handy.
photo credit
Some optional items that are good to have, just in case are:
  • Foam Tire Sealant or a Portable Compressor and Plug Kit, because nails and other sharp objects happen and these will at least get you to the next service station.
  • Portable Battery Booster, because you aren't always near civilization when the least convenient things happen.
  • Fire Extinguisher, because you hope there isn't a fire, but things don't always go the way you expect.
{All of the above can be found at your local Advance Auto Parts location or their website.}


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Now that you're all prepared for your trip, you can worry about narrowing down all the stops you'll be making on your way. Go out and have an awesome and affordable trip, plus save even more with these tips from AAP on how to pay less for gas.  What are some of your best road trip tips? Find more on the AAP website!

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Advance Auto Parts and was brought to you through my partnership with the Quality Blue Community. All opinions expressed are my own.
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