Taking a road trip should be a hassle-free experience, and for the most part, it is. No airport security to deal with and no flight delays. But we all know about the unexpected – flat tires, dead batteries, getting locked out of your vehicle and endless road repairs on the highway.
From experience, having a plan will go a long way to smooth away the rough edges of a road trip. These are 10 things I do and would recommend you know before your next road trip:
1. Download these apps
Heard of Waze? Waze is the best app for traffic alerts and to find the fastest routes to your destination. I put the app to the test for the first time on a recent trip from New York City to Hammondsport. Waze can point out road construction, traffic, police activities, stalled vehicles and road hazards.
Waze is a Google-owned but community-based traffic and navigation app. Use it for your next road trip.
Another app to download is Openbay. If your vehicle breaks down while on the road, use Openbay to look for a network of mechanics, get estimated quotes, and it lets you to compare the cost to fix your car. However, Openbay is not available everywhere. Check their website to find out if it is available at the places you’ll be going.
2. Vehicle care before your next road trip
According to Automobile Association of Great Britain, the most common car breakdowns during road trips are due to:
• Flat or faulty battery
• Lost keys
• Damaged tires and wheels
The same applies here in the US. They are the easiest to prevent and yet most commonly occurring. Many drivers, myself included do not know the appropriate tire pressure and don’t know where to look for the recommended pressures. Per Mobiloil.com, you can find the recommended tire pressures on the driver’s side door, in the glove compartment or on the fuel filler door.
Michelin recommends to:
- Buy a trusted tire pressure gauge
- Check your tires “cold” before driving
- Compare the measured psi with the recommended for your vehicle
- Check tires using the penny test
3. Take care of the driver/s
Don’t forget to take care of the driver before your road trip. A rested, and a well-fed driver is just as important as the well-cared vehicle. Drivers must stay alert, stay hydrated and not be driving under the influence of alcohol.
I’d rather have enough sleep and leave later in the day than to leave early in the morning and compromise on sleep.
4. Snack bag
Snacks can do wonders to the driver and the passengers while on a road trip. I believe in loading up on the snacks you like instead of just focusing on the healthy stuff. Favorite snacks usually mean happy drivers and passengers.
Also, don’t forget to stock up on water.
5. Hygiene and first aid kit
I like having paper towels, wet wipes, hand sanitizers, a first aid kit and essential oils on road trips.
Get the most comprehensive first aid kit with pain relief medication, antihistamine cream, and antibacterial cream. Peppermint essential oil is known to help with alertness. Motion sickness bands like Sea-Band may be useful if you tend to have motion sickness while driving on winding roads.
“A bad plan is often better than no plan,” a quote by Adam Gopnik (an American writer), also applies to road trips. Here are some of my general road trip plans:
- Pit stops
- Gas stops (I try to avoid gas stops in the major cities and those that are far from the highway)
- Things to pack
Gadgets for the car and for the passengers are necessary. Here are the essentials:
- Smartphone loaded with apps
- Chargers – for phones and camera
- Portable power banks
- Portable jump starter
- Portable generator (maybe for very long trips)
You don’t have to think about the TSA 3-1-1 liquid rule, and there won’t be problems with bringing a pair of scissors, tweezers or a hammer if you want to when on road trips. Basically, you can bring anything you like, provided they all fit in the trunk of your car.
Don’t get carried away because overloading will reduce the effectiveness of your vehicle and may compromise on the tires and increase gas costs, to name just a few of the problems you may encounter.
9. E-Z Pass
The E-Z Pass transponder is a must for road trips. We saved so much time going through tunnels, turnpikes, and bridges using the E-Z Pass here in the Northeast. No need to wait in line or fumble over loose change. Just pass through the fast lanes, and the transponder will do all the work for you.
According to an article by USA Today, don’t let the toll road slow you down, there are more than 5,000 miles of toll roads in the US.
Find out which pass you need before heading out. Here in the Northeast, we use E-Z Pass. While in Florida we had the SunPass.
We’ve done identifying the number plates, I spy games and all sorts of road trip entertainment we could think of. By far, the best is car karaoke. Even if you don’t sing, you can lip sync. With Spotify, you can easily create a playlist before taking the road trip.
Collaborate with those who are taking the trip with you and create a perfect music list for everyone. Now, Spotify has teamed up with Waze to make listening to music even easier. I haven’t tested that out yet. You can check it out and let us know how it works.