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After a couple of years without travel, Americans are ready to take on the open road again. Despite the high gas prices, many people are investing time and money in road trips. So how can you plan and save money driving on your next family getaway?

How do I start planning a road trip? 

A road you could plan a roadtrip on.
A road lined with trees | Getty Images

The first thing you will want to do is make sure your vehicle is prepared. That means making sure it’s up to date on routine service. Did you schedule an oil change? Do the tires look OK? Do you have a spare just in case? Don’t forget to change your wiper blades if they are more than six months old. Ask your technician to check the coolant, power steering, and brake fluid, too.

Consumer Reports’ road trip to-dos

Here are a few things Consumer Reports feels you need to remember when planning a road trip to be sure you’re prepared for anything.

Make sure you have a car emergency kit – Don’t leave items like jumper cables and flashlights behind. A portable jump-starter can also juice your smartphone if you can get one.

Pack it up – Make sure there are no suitcases blocking the driver’s view. If you have a roof rack, you can secure more bags on the top of your vehicle.

Stay connected with the internet If your vehicle is equipped with a WiFi hot spot, you may want to activate this service month so everyone can use their phones, tablets, and laptops.

Don’t forget your pets When traveling with pets in the car, make sure they are in a crate or a secured seat harness for safety reasons.

Supplies and first-aid kits It’s never a bad idea to have extra bandages or pain relievers on hand. You may also consider packing up rapid COVID-19 tests and plenty of hand sanitizer.

Tolls Make sure you have the appropriate toll transponder before heading out.

Car seat safety Remember to check and see if your child’s car seats are correctly installed.

On the road to-do’s

It’s always wise to sign up for a Roadside Assistance plan. You might need a jump start or a battery replacement when least expected. The best part? You may also end up saving money on repairs.

Practice fuel efficiency is another great to-do to maximize your trip. One way to do this is by taking down the roof rack if you aren’t using it. An empty roof rack can reduce fuel economy by 5 percent for a compact SUV. You can also follow the speed limit, pack light, and remove your bike racks since they add drag.

You’ll also want a plan in play in case someone tests positive for coronavirus (COVID-19). Wash your hands whenever you can mask up if necessary, and always keep sanitizer handy.

Ready to hit the road?

Road tripping is fun, and it’s great to have some normality back in our lives. Before leaving, ensure your car is caught up on its service appointments and pack only the items you need. A detailed checklist can help you and your family stay organized.


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