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Saturday, December 5, 2020

Get Your Car Road Trip Ready

I know some of you are getting ready to travel for the holidays. Maybe it's to a secluded place to spend some time away from home or to a family member's house. While many of us aren't going to be flying anywhere for a while, road trips are a much safer option. If you aren't renting a car, then you need to get your own road trip ready.

Get Your Car Road Trip Ready

Have you checked your car recently?

I love a good road trip, but winter can be scary if you aren't ready for the weather conditions being thrown at you. This is not the time to just "see how it goes". You need to prepare. Now, I know the very basic of car maintenance. I can check my oil and put air in my tires and I could probably put on a spare if I was strong enough. I can even jump a car if need be, but that's about it. It's always smart to go get your car checked out before your trip. A licensed professional 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. 

Is your car comfortable?

Even though I got into an accident over the summer and had to get a new car, I purchased a used car to get what I wanted in the price range I was comfortable with. Going into winter, I'll be getting new tires, because old, crappy tires when you might encounter ice or snow is not at all optimal. My old care was coming up on 12 years old and I knew that a big repair was on the horizon. It took me on several really great, long road trips, like the one that I did solo to Vegas and back and the one I did with my mom and the dog to Montana. 

My new car is a Kia Soul, which gives us quite a bit more room to stretch out for long and short trips. It also gets a lot better gas mileage, which means I can go farther on a tank of gas. That means road trips are more budget-friendly for me, in addition to being more comfortable. 

Are your brakes good?

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.

Are your fluids topped off?

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.

Do you have an emergency kit?

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
  • Jackbecause you aren't He-Man and need some help holding the car up to change a tire.
  • Lug Wrench. I like this non-slip one, but if you're a wimp like me, this electric one is even better. 
  • 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. You should have these in your Covid Safety Kit.
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 Backup for your phone, 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.
  • A paper map is always a good idea when your phone can't get a GPS signal.
  • Portable jumpstart battery, that can be used to charge devices. It also has a light on it. I have a Halo Bolt and it has saved me several times when my battery has died and I don't have anyone near me to help jump my car. You connect the clips, push a button, wait a bit and then start your car. It's also come in handy to charge my laptop and phone, but also to plug in a light when the power has gone out.

Are your tires road-trip ready?

If you haven't done it recently, take your car in to have your tires rotated. Traveling through snowy or icy passes? Consider getting a set of studded tires for the season, or just specifically for this trip. If you're like me and don't love the idea of tearing up the roads if they are clear, get a set of chains or cables just in case. These are good to have on-hand anyway, just because you never know if a snow or ice storm is going to surprise you.

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. If you need help with how to safely road trip during the pandemic, check out my post here. And then learn how to pack a great road trip cooler. And check out this post for traveling with your pup.

What are some of your best road trip tips?

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through any of them, I may be monetarily compensated, and I will be super grateful to you for helping me keep my blog running. Cheers!

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