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Are you planning a road trip? If so, there are steps you should take first to make your trip easier, more comfortable, and safer. We’ve created this road trip checklist to ensure that you don’t forget something important before you go. 

Keep your vehicle running smoothly during your road trip

Your car is the key component of a road trip. You need to make sure it is in tip-top shape before hitting the road. According to Auto Care Plus, you should add these to your road trip checklist to prepare your vehicle for a long and uneventful journey:

  • Change the oil and the oil filter.
  • Change the air filter. This is particularly important if you’re heading for the mountains where the air is leaner.
  • Change the spark plugs.
  • Check that your battery is fully charged and in good condition.
  • Search for any loose cables or worn belts.
  • Check that your brake pads and rotors are in good shape.
  • Flush the radiator if it’s been a while since you did it last. Don’t forget to add coolant!
  • Top off your vehicle’s power steering and brake fluids. 
  • Replace your windshield wipers (unless they’re in great shape) and fill the fluid reservoir.
  • Test your low and high beam headlights, taillights, and turn signals.
  • Check the tread and condition of your tires. Make sure the tire pressure is correct.
  • Check your spare tire for leaks and air pressure.
  • Make sure the heater and air conditioner are working properly. On a long trip, you may need them both.
  • Your Mechanic suggests washing and waxing your vehicle. The wax will make bug splats easier to remove, as will a water repeller on the windshield, side mirrors, and headlights. A bug deflector shield will protect your radiator from bug clogs and even small rocks or road debris.
  • Take advantage of these cheap gas hacks to save money on your road trip.

Prepare for possible roadside emergencies:

While out on the open road accidents can happen anywhere. The best way to make the best of these unfortunate situations is to be prepared. Here are a few measures you can take to make sure you’re prepared for just about anything:

  • Make sure your up-to-date proof of insurance and vehicle registration are where you can find them easily. 
  • Keep your owner’s manual in the glove box so you’ll know what that mysterious warning light means.
  • Take a spare key and always keep it somewhere on your person. The last thing you need on a long trip is to lock yourself out of your car.
  • Keep a good flashlight handy.
  • Take along a working fire extinguisher. Make sure you check the expiration date.
  • Jumper cables can help you or a fellow motorist when a vehicle won’t start.
  • Make sure you’ve got a tire iron and an appropriate jack for your vehicle.
  • Take along an extra set of belts and spare fuses for your vehicle.
  • A thick tow rope or chain will be worth the space it takes if you ever need it.
  • A plastic funnel makes adding fluids cleaner and easier.
  • Shop towels are handy for wiping up spills, cleaning windows, etc.
  • Keep a basic tool kit handy. It should include an extra flashlight, hammer, pliers, a few screwdrivers and wrenches in assorted sizes, duct tape, wire, and bungee cords.
  • A collapsible bucket doesn’t take up much room and will let you haul water if you need some emergency coolant or just want to put out a campfire.

Keep your road trip comfort and convenience in mind

Now that your maintenance is taken care of and you’re prepared for emergencies, the next part of the road trip checklist is all about comforts on the road. Here are a few tips to make sure you stay riding in comfort during the journey.

Starting out with a clean vehicle will make your trip more pleasant and let you find your sunglasses or that map when you need them. A small trash container and vehicle organizers will help keep your vehicle clean and organized over the course of your journey. 

Sun shields for the windshield and side windows will help keep your vehicle cooler while you’re away sightseeing or shopping. If they fold and unfold easily, they’ll last longer and stay out of the way until needed.

You’re probably bringing cell phones and other electronic devices along for the ride. Double-check that you have all of the chargers, charging cables, memory cards, USB cords, and other accessories you’ll need to use them. A travel-size surge protector with a couple of USB ports and a folding plug can help protect those expensive electronics. If you’re bringing quite a few devices, you may want to pack at least two surge protectors.

Sometimes there are long stretches between scenic vistas where there’s not much to see. It’s just long boring mile after long boring mile… This is where your favorite podcasts, old-time radio shows, audiobooks, or up-beat music can really help pass the time. Since you may lose service, download your favorites ahead of time.

If you have kids along, you’re probably dreading hearing “Are we there yet?” for the umpteenth time. Take some proactive steps against it by providing the kids with plenty to do along the way. These travel hacks will keep the kids distracted and your vehicle cleaner. Now, get out there on the road and enjoy your trip!