Many people will be taking advantage of the long Labor Day holiday weekend for one last summer travel hurrah. Planning appropriately for a road trip, however, can reduce potential issues and expenses and maximize enjoyment for all.
Hit the road with a well-maintained vehicle
For optimal performance of the vehicle you’ll be traveling in, there are a few keys things to check. Depending on how handy you are, you might choose to do it yourself or have it checked by a professional at a trusted auto repair shop. Cnet.com suggests inspecting the following:
- Tires: Check tread and air pressure.
- Fluid levels: Make sure your oil is full and your washer fluid is topped off. As general and preventative maintenance, it’s not a bad idea to just have all of your filters and fluids checked and changed or flushed as needed.
- Belts: Check and replace old and/or cracked belts.
- Pads: Check the thickness of your brake pads before they wear too thin and do damage to other parts of your vehicle.
Things to do for a successful road trip
No one wants to start on an exciting trek and discover an unexpected hiccup. Having your car in ideal traveling condition is great, but it’s important to think of other ways to make your trip a success.
- Pack the car the day before to make sure everything (and everyone) fits. Make sure you have visibility in your mirrors. Try to get everything in the car, as attaching things to the roof could reduce your fuel efficiency and possibly create wind noise. Don’t take unnecessary extras, as the added weight could affect fuel efficiency as well.
- Know where you’re going. Utilize technology by plugging your destination in to your GPS, but don’t overlook the value of a good old-fashioned map. Navigation signals and systems can sometimes be unreliable, so it’s good to have another way to find your way.
- Be prepared with an emergency kit. Basic first aid items, fix-a-flat, jumper cables, a life hammer, basic tools, road flares and a flashlight are good items to keep in your vehicle. Depending on your route and destination, you might want to keep extra clothes, blankets and non-perishable food on hand as well.
- Be aware of the rules of the road. U-turns are legal in Florida, but they’re not legal everywhere. Also, speed limits and various traffic laws (such as turning right on red) differ from state to state.
Be financially savvy on your road trip
Travel expenses add up quickly no matter what the mode of transportation. From transportation and dining out to entertainment and lodging, there are a few easy ways to make your trip less expensive.
- Download an app to help you find the most cost-effective fuel or get money back from your gas purchase. GasBuddy and GetUpside are two to check out.
- Pack snacks to minimize the need to over-spend at gas station convenience stores. Bring a cooler with water and drinks.
- Give your bank and credit card companies a heads up about where you’ll be traveling so they don’t flag unusual purchases and potentially lock account access or freeze your funds.
Road trips can be a great way to travel and make new memories. Being proactive and preparing for your trip will help ensure that you can enjoy the adventure.