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Thinking about a road trip?
A little planning can make it more
enjoyable—and safer.

Vacation travel checklist

Get your driving vacation off to a better start with these seven road trip planning tips

1. Make sure your car is ready for the road

Be sure to cover the basics: check and top up any fluids that are low, including antifreeze, motor oil, transmission fluid and windshield washer; check dashboard indicator lights, headlights and taillights; check your air-conditioning system. Or take your car to your favorite service center and ask them to check its road readiness. 1    

2. Check your tire pressure and treads

Make sure your tires are inflated to the recommended tire pressure, including the spare (see the chart on your driver’s side door, in the glove compartment or on the fuel filler door). Also, check the tire tread depth. Insert a penny into the tread. If the depth is below Lincoln’s head, consider replacing them. 2

3. Take a navigational aid

If your car doesn’t have a built-in navigation system, be sure to bring maps or a portable GPS system. You can also download a travel or trip planner app to your smartphone or tablet. 3 Popular ones include  Roadtrippers and TripIt.

4. Pack a vehicle emergency kit

Be prepared for the unexpected on your road trip. Take along a flashlight, a first-aid kit, jumper cables, a basic tool kit and some clean rags or towels.  Also, take a spare ignition key and a list of emergency numbers.

5. Pack a cooler

Every travel checklist should include a well-stocked cooler. Take along single-serve juices, soft drinks, water, energy drinks, cut fruit, cut vegetables, tuna salad, potato salad and the like. Use re-freezable ice packs to keep food cold. Also, pack some dry snacks like potato chips and pretzels. A roll of paper towels will also come in handy.4

Tip: For more room in your cooler, store cut fruit and vegetables in clear zip-lock bags.

6. Make it comfortable and fun

For comfort, wear loose-fitting clothes and slip-on shoes. Be sure to bring pillows, blankets and an umbrella, too.3

Long car trips don’t have to be boring, especially for children. Take along CDs, headphones/earbuds, a smartphone or handheld game system, playing cards, portable DVD player/laptop computer, chargers/converters and some outdoor toys, like a Frisbee or soccer ball. 3

7. Check your insurance policy

Make sure your car insurance policy includes roadside assistance. If not, coverage is usually inexpensive, so it makes sense to add it before you depart. Auto clubs, like AAA, also provide that service.1

Sources:

1 Ultimate Road Trip Planner: Travel Checklist for a Long Car Journey

(thetraveltester.com)

 

2 How to Know When to Replace Car Tires (yourmechanic.com)

 

3 Packing Checklist for a Perfect Road Trip  (apartmenttherapy.com)

 

4 The Road Trip Packing List  (vacation-lists.com)

Additional Sources:

Road Trip Prep: 10 Things to Check Before You Hit the Road   (consumerreports.org)

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