11 Road Trip Tips Before You Hit the Road
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It’s been running through your mind lately, you’ve got the urge to go on a road trip. Maybe it’s been a long while since you’ve gone on one or maybe you’ve never taken a road trip. In any case, you don’t have the experience and you’re wondering, “What are some things I need to think about before I go on a road trip?” Road trips, besides the obvious form of transportation, are much different than flying somewhere. Preparation is different, packing is different and the travel knowledge is different. We’ll take a look at some things that you may want to think about and consider before planning for any road trip. We’ll give you some road trip tips to make sure you’re all set and ready to put it in drive to go wherever the road leads you.
A successful road trip is one that is well planned and prepared for, so you may want to create a road trip planner. You want to make sure that you leave out any stresses, plan for unforeseen events, have the right equipment and above all else, plan for maximum fun. Driving nowadays can be monotonous, routine and downright dull, but your road trip doesn’t have to be. If you can take care of the necessary tasks suggested in the following 11 Road Trip Tips, your road trip can be that much more enjoyable.
So, let’s quit wasting time and jump right into it. These are your 11 Road Trip Tips Before You Hit the Road.
1. Have the Proper Documents and Make Sure They’re Up-To-Date
Make sure all your documents are up to date and that you have the ones you need to drive legally. This sounds like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how many people forget to renew their license or driver’s insurance. They knew it needed to be done, but somehow forgot or neglected to take care of them. Some states have grace periods, but we suggest that you take care of business and not add a stressor to your road trip.
Other important items that you need to make sure are not expired are your vehicle registration and vehicle inspection records. In the state of Texas you get one sticker for your vehicle to place on your windshield that identifies that both your vehicle inspection has passed and registration is up-to-date. Be sure to check your own state’s DMV website for their registration renewal rules and regulations.
You don’t want to risk getting pulled over for expired tags and get in trouble with the law for any violations, and you certainly don’t want to have to pay any fines or fees. After all, a road trip just like any trip costs money and you don’t want to spend more on things that are unnecessary, especially on things that could have been prevented. Pay up to be a legal driver first, and then enjoy your road trip. Don’t get caught, pay fines and fees, and then pay to be legal. By then you’re probably S.O.L. on your road trip plans which really sucks.
Go check out our blog post on keeping up-to-date to drive legally for your road trip to find out more on vehicle insurance, why we need to register our vehicles, learn some of the laws on driving without proper vehicle documents and licenses, and much more to educate yourself before you set out on your next road trip.
2. Make Sure Your Vehicle Has Been Maintained
Always be sure your vehicle is up-to-date on maintenance. If you take care of your car, your car will take care of you. You want your road trip scenario to be you driving along, no problems, with a smooth and enjoyable ride. You don’t want the road trip scenario where your car stalls, gives you problems the whole way, overheats or worse, gives out.
You want to use adjectives describing your road trip like these: enjoyable, fun, wonderful, memorable, fantastic, cool, awesome
You don’t want to use adjectives describing your road trip like these: horrible, awful, sh*&ty, sucked, bummer, lame
After all, we would like for you to always enjoy your road trips and come back to see us specifically when you think of the phrase “road trip”. That’s what we’re about, road trips! That’s why we made these 11 Road Trip Tips for you.
There are a few basic things you may want to make sure to check and take care of on your vehicle before you set off on your road trip, especially if it’s a very long one. The following are the major and most common things to maintain on your car before you hit the road.
The following is for maintenance suggestions on vehicles with internal combustion engines, not electric cars. If you own or are going to use an electric car for your road trip, first of all that’s awesome, and secondly you’ll have different items to maintain. You may check out the link Electric Car Maintenance: What You Need to Know to see what needs to be maintained on an electric vehicle.
We’ll give four major categories here for typical automobiles and if you’d like to know more details about these four categories and advice on what to do you can read the link How to Maintain a Car.
4 Car Maintenance Tasks to Perform On Your Road Trip Car
- Check or have someone check your vehicle’s fluids and filters. Fluids include engine oil, coolant, brake fluid, windshield wiper fluid and even gasoline or diesel. Filters include oil filter, air filter, cabin air filter, and fuel filter. Refer to your vehicle owner’s manual for your specific vehicle’s suggested maintenance and maintenance schedules.
- Check your brakes, belts and hoses. If you don’t know how to do these, just take your vehicle to a trustworthy mechanic or dealership and have them look over these items for you. If you’re someone willing to learn, it’s really not difficult at all to check them out yourself. You just need to know what you’re looking for. Again, refer to your vehicle owner’s manual for your specific vehicle for maintenance and replacement parts if something needs to be replaced. The internet is a wonderful place to learn things as well. Just use YouTube to search for videos on how to do these things for your vehicle. At this point, there’s a video out there somewhere someone has made on just about every vehicle out there. All you have to do is search for yours.
- Check you battery and all lights. A car battery can sometimes get its terminals corroded, which could cause a poor connection to the rest of the electrical system of the car. All you need to do is clean it up and your connections could be good as new. Here’s how. Also, batteries need to be changed every so often, so if you haven’t changed out your battery for a long time and it’s been in your vehicle for several thousands of miles and/or several years, you may need to replace it. Refer to your vehicle owner’s manual for your specific vehicle’s suggested battery maintenance and correct replacement battery. You also want to check and see that your head lights, tail lights, reverse lights, and blinker lights (front & back) are all working. If they aren’t, take your car to a trusted mechanic or dealership to have them check them out and replace them. Again, if you’re more hands-on, refer to your vehicle owner’s manual and use YouTube if needed.
- Check your tires and wipers. Make sure that your tires have proper wear and are not going bald or uneven. Make sure that you rotate your tires when needed. We are not mechanics, but we like to rotate out tires every time we change the oil in the vehicle. This way we know that it’s been done regularly and that it’s done with a regular maintenance routine. You also want to make sure that you have the proper air pressure in your vehicle’s tires. The following links will show you how to check your tires and how you can check car tire tread wear.
Have you ever considered traveling with an electric vehicle?
Traveling with an electric vehicle may be cost effective and efficient compared to a combustion engine vehicle. If you've ever considered going all electric on your road trip and have wondered what'd take to do so, we highly recommend you read this very informative and deeply researched article entitled Traveling with an electric vehicle: Making a cost-effective and efficient trip, by Andrew Wan at MillionMileSecrets.com
Using an electric vehicle can make for a very cost-effective and fun road trip. (Photo by Smile Fight/Shutterstock)
3. Clean Your Car before Your Road Trip
Now, this tip is not an absolute necessary step, but it is one that can greatly improve your comfort and mood of your trip. Junk in your car can get in the way, take up space, and can be an inconvenience for you and your passengers, which in turn makes for a miserable ride. Cleaning the inside of your car, throwing trash, unnecessary papers and those old beverage bottles scattered in your vehicle away can greatly improve the mood in your car when on your trip. A clean environment makes for a happy one, so a clean car, in theory, can improve the outcome of your entire trip. While you’re at it, take your car through the car wash, get the mud, dirt and scum off. A slick looking car feels much better to drive than a grungy one.
4. Road Trip Preparation
Be prepared. If you have to, start making a list of items you may need or want to take with you far in advance of your road trip so that you can have them ready. It’s also a great idea to put on your list the tasks that you need to take care of before you leave, like cleaning your car, getting that inspection done that’ll be due soon and paying for your registration so you’ll have it, getting the maintenance done that is needed, and any other things that you need to take care of before you go.
5. Create a Road Trip Planner
Now, sometimes the fun of a road trip is to just drive wherever the road leads you. A lot of times when we drive on our road trips, we have specific destinations where we want to go. Sometimes though, we see road sign advertisements that interest us or take detours along the way that lead us to unique places that we had never known. It’s fun to find little gems along the way that can be big surprises on your road trip, but having a planned route is very important too. Having a loose itinerary is fine, but you want to make sure that you have a schedule set and a determined path in place on where you know you want to go. It’s tempting to take an exit to somewhere 10 miles out of the way, but if you don’t know where you are afterward and get lost, this can bring unnecessary stress or tensions among driver and passengers within the vehicle. It can also make you late to destinations or activities you had planned for further out on your trip. So, make a road trip planner. You don’t have to be strict on it, but do have a schedule written out and note places you really want to see and visit. Remember, a lot of places have specific times they open and close, so make sure you plan wisely and never forget to have fun. This is a road trip; they’re supposed to be fun!
6. You’ve got To Compromise
Undoubtedly you and your passengers will have different plans and opinions on where to go and visit for your road trip. If you haven’t created your road trip planner in advance, arguments may ensue throughout your entire trip. Never take arguments with you on your trip, if you have any, and debate your choices of route and places of interest to visit well before you plan to leave. Compromise in the beginning, try to come to an agreement on where you want to go and what you may want to see, and write them out in your road trip planner. This is easier said than done sometimes, right? Believe us, if you have your road trip planner set before your road trip and create a pact with your road trip crew that you will stick to the plan you’ll all have a much more civil and enjoyable road trip.
7. Inform Someone about Your Road Trip Plans
This tip is a very important one. This is also where your road trip planner that you’ve made in advance becomes very important too. Just like a hiker that plans on going on a weekend trek through mountainous terrain and will be camping out in the wilderness alone all weekend long needs to let someone know what her plans are and where she plans to be during her trip, the road tripper needs to do the same as well. Make sure you tell a trusted individual who is not going with you on your road trip where you plan to go, what you plan to do, and how long you plan to be gone. Make a copy of your road trip planner to give to that person so that have a detailed itinerary of your planned trip and they won’t have to remember the details because it’s written out there for them to refer to. Another tip is to have phone numbers written out somewhere with your road trip planner, just in case either of you lose a phone or some other unforeseen event occurs. That way they can reach you and you can reach them.
8. Anticipate Unforeseen Events
Anticipate troubles you may encounter during your road trip. Be prepared to lose a wallet, keys, misplace a phone, have flats, etc. Preparing for such things, let alone thinking about them are not fun, but if you anticipate the possibility of something unfortunate happening before you even put it in drive can greatly prepare you for whatever the road throws at you. The following may help you in preparing for such unforeseen events:
- Separate credit or debit cards from your wallet or purse. Keep a credit card on you at all times, but place your other cards in a safe place just in case you lose your wallet or purse; like in a console, glove compartment or luggage. Wherever your favorite hiding place is in your car that can keep items safe, keep them there. Same goes for cash too.
- Separate cash. See, it’s important to separate your cash too. If you misplace a wallet or get pick-pocketed or mugged, at least you’ll know you have another stash of cash in your safe hiding place to hold you over.
- Write down important phone numbers. Again, this is very important if you lose your phone. Most of us don’t remember phone numbers anymore, so having them written out somewhere can be very helpful. Stash them in a safe place as well.
- It’s important to know that all states offer a toll-free road side assistance hotline on the back of your driver’s license and ID cards (DPS Stranded Motorist Hotline-Texas). They usually will send a local DPS officer to your location to assist your situation. Do not expect a free tow, though. The state does not pick up your tab. The number is really meant for non-emergency services. This Oklahoma University Police Department link is great to look at for state-by-state cellphone highway emergency assistance numbers.
9. Bring Some Entertainment With You On Your Road Trip
Be sure to bring some form of entertainment. Don’t let those long drives get you bored. Learn some car games that you can play. Here are 20 car games for your road trip. Make up games or bring some other form of entertainment. Check out our Games & Toys page for some things you can play with on the road, at a pit-stop, park, campground or hotel room. Some forms of electronics can be great to bring too. Check out our Electronics page for some great ways to entertain everyone on your next road trip. Some of our most memorable road trips and long drives involved car games and other forms of great entertainment we brought along with us.
10. Bring a Book or Two to Read on Your Road Trip
Bring a book or two. Road trips can be a great time to catch up on reading. There will be times when fun and games are over, you’re at your campsite or hotel room and you end up having some quiet time. Books are perfect for the passenger in the vehicle too when there’s not much going on during the drive. Be sure that before you go though, to bring a book that will be entertaining for you. There’s nothing worse than bringing a book with you, opening it up, reading a few pages and ending up hating it.
Now, we know that this is a broad statement. Learn what?! Well, you’re going on a road trip, right? A great suggestion would be to learn how to read maps. Yes, we live in the 21st century now, with our smart phones and GPS, but it’s always recommended to bring maps and road atlases with you, and to know how to use them. Your electronics might not always work like you want them to, so having a good map as a backup, or to at least to refer to is always a great suggestion. There’s a reason why people have been using them for hundreds of years. If you’re not comfortable using a map, or do not know how to use one, just do like everything else and Google how to or go to YouTube and find whatever works for you to learn. It really is not that difficult. You can do it!
Now, of course there’s a lot to learn for your road trip and road tripping in general. The real tip is to just go out there and do it! Don’t over think it. You’re never going to be fully prepared or knowledgeable on everything. You just have to gain the experience and learn as you go, that’s the fun in it all. Road trips can teach you a lot about things, a lot about life and can teach you skills for life, that’s why we recommend it and why we love it so much. We hope these 11 road trip tips before you hit the road can help you out for your next road trip and have been of value to you and your road trip crew. If so, let us know how much it’s meant to you. We’d love to hear from you! Just contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org, and be sure to follow, like and subscribe to our our social media pages, that would mean a lot to us!
Remember, road trips are meant to be fun! Exploring this great country of ours is a privilege, and we suggest you go and visit all that it has to offer. The only way to really experience this country, its people and its scenery is to take a road trip across it.
Before you put it in drive, leave it in park and call dibs on items for your next road vacay at OmigodDibs.com
If you see the pink dot, you’re at the right spot!