The summer may be coming to an end, but there’s still plenty of time to take one last road trip. The trick to road tripping is being prepared before you hit the road. No matter where you’re headed, take the steps below to ensure the trip goes smoothly.
Make Sure Your Insurance is Adequate
Hopefully, you’ve already got minimal liability insurance coverage, since it’s the law in 48 of the 50 states (and those two states have requirements to meet to forgo insurance). But the bare minimum doesn’t cover you in all situations, and recent changes to your driving record could also affect auto insurance. For example, do you need to look into getting SR22 insurance before your trip?
Give your insurance company a call if you have any questions about your policy. The representative can also help you decide if you should add comprehensive coverage to a liability policy. In addition to auto insurance, it may be a good idea to get travel insurance as well. This is highly recommended if you’ve booked expensive excursions or accommodations.
Give Your Vehicle a Good Once Over
Nothing is more important during a road trip than reliable transportation. Vehicle-related issues are one of the top causes of car crashes, and some of the problems are completely avoidable if you give your vehicle a good once over.
All components of the vehicle and fluid levels should be checked, but the points below are additional issues to look into before leaving.
- Tire Condition – This is a big one if you plan to drive hundreds or thousands of miles. Tire/wheel deficiency is the most common vehicle-related malfunction during car crashes. Tire failure accounts for 43% of all vehicle-related crashes.
- Braking System – The next most common mechanical failure happens in the braking system.
- Vehicle Recalls – Design defects can increase risk, no matter how far you drive. Any time a manufacturer is aware of a known defect they must notify all vehicle owners and offer free repair services. If you’ve gotten a recall letter, bring your vehicle in for repairs ASAP.
Another vehicle-related factor to watch out for is visibility. It can be limited, due to the design of the vehicle, but how you pack also makes a difference. At the bare minimum, make sure all of your mirrors are working and make adjustments before turning on the ignition.
Check the Weather
Weather has a huge impact on road travel. Knowing what’s expected down the road can help you pack the right clothes, include essential gear and prepare for rough road conditions. Start checking the 10-day forecast for your final destination about a week in advance. It’s a good idea to begin tracking the weather across your route a few days before leaving.
Know How to Dress
Knowing how to dress can make a world of difference when you’re traveling. Chances are, attire isn’t quite the same compared to where you live, and it could be dramatically different.
Checking the weather is a good start for general comfort, but you’ll need to consider a few more things before deciding which clothes to pack. First, check your itinerary. If your trip is strictly leisure easy, chic travel clothes are a must. However, if you plan to hikes up hillsides, you’ll need clothing suited for the outdoors. It’s also important to consider how locals dress if you don’t want to stick out as a tourist.
Get Your Finances in Order
A road trip requires certain expenditures. The last thing you want is to get stranded miles from home with no way to pay for what you need. Before heading out:
- Estimate how much cash you’ll need – You can probably pay for gas using only a card, but having cash on hand is always recommended. Come up with a road trip budget that itemizes everything, including payment options.
- Call your credit card companies – Let them know about your travel plans so they don’t put a hold on your cards.
- Come up with a backup plan – Figure out a plan of action with a friend or family member back home in case your wallet or purse goes missing.
Follow these five steps and you’ll be well on your way to having a safe, rewarding road trip!