Image by: floorvan
The mythology of the great road trip is perhaps one of the most well-trodden and moth eared of cultural institutions because it speaks of the great desire many of us feel to escape the routine of modern life.
With sun at our sides, the wind at our backs and a trusty automobile pounding over the horizon we start to feel like we are finally the masters of our own destiny.
What all the movies and novels rarely tell you though, is just how important preparation is for big journeys.
Prepare Your Vehicle
Making sure your vehicle is ready for your trip is essential preparation, not least because you are unlikely to get very far without it, but also because breaking down can be an expensive and frustrating experience.
Of course, you could just take it to a certified technician, but if you really want to immerse yourself in the road trip experience you are going to need to get your hands dirty:
- Tyres – For a start there should be five of them. The main things you want to check for here are that your tyres have adequate grip and pressure. Make sure you pack all the equipment you are going to need to change the tyre yourself as well.
- Fluids – checking the coolant oil and transmission fluid levels is a must, while the engine oil is pretty important too. You should be able to find what the right levels are in your owner’s manual.
- Belts/hoses – you want to make sure that all of the hoses and belts are tightly connected and that they are relatively free of cracks and blisters. You want to pay particular attention to the belt on the front of the engine and the hoses going into the radiator.
- Brakes – pretty self-explanatory, but if you feel any grinding, vibrations or pulling in one direction when you hit the brakes, you need to take them to a specialist
Prepare Your Route
Making reservations in advance
This may sound about as un-spontaneous as it gets, but just remember that this is exactly the reason why so many people die horrible deaths in scary films: they don’t book in advance and have to settle for some creepy, deserted motel. And then they die.
The truth is that cross-country trips are pretty tiring affairs and knowing that you have definite end-point, and that that end-goal has a comfy place to lay your head, is a great physiological boost.
Research attractions and interesting stops
Once you know where you are going and how you are going to get there, you are going to need to fill in the gaps. The stops don’t have to be grand canyon-like spectacular, maybe a picturesque picnic on a sunny hill or the world famous Pencil Museum.
Get to grips with your travel style
Part of the fun of a road trip is the people you travel with, but not everyone has the same “travelling style.” One of you may want to get a picture of every landmark while another may simply want to visit every fish restaurant in the area. Some like to sit in silence and let the view roll past them while others like to chat and play games.
Set your budget
Although you may be trying to escape from the daily constraints and concerns of money for a while, you still have to admit that it can be very handy in certain situations. You’re going to need enough to eat and fill up your car as a minimum, but it is always good to bring a little for souvenirs and any unexpected problems.
Finally, you are almost ready! To guarantee that you are truly ready here is a final list of things you should definitely pack:
- Emergency kit such as flashlights, jumper cables and a first aid kit
- Duct tape, ice scrapers, scissors and other useful things of that nature
- A supply of snacks and bottles of water
- Blankets and jumpers
- Music, books and games
- Every kind of charger you could need
- Sun block (if needed)
- Rain gear
Also, you should make sure that some people other than the people going on the trip know where you are going, when you will back and have all the relevant numbers.
See? Taking the time to be sensible and take a few precautions didn’t sap the fun out the road trip at all did it? If anything, knowing that you had adequate supplies and a good idea of where you were going allowed you to pay more attention to the beautiful scenery and appreciate the simple joy of being on the road again.
Do you have any more essential road trip preparation tips to share?
- License: Creative Commons image source
Gavin Harvey is an intrepid explorer and once took a road trip across America and broke down in the middle of the Nevada Desert. Thanks to Need To Sell My Car, he was able to sell that car with ease and banish any enduring memories associated with that desolate experience.