Your Road Trip Planner: The Best Car Travel Checklist
You’ve worked hard to earn vacation time so you and your family can hit the road and explore the world. Everyone is excited to go, but you know that several hours of car time is ahead of you. We’ve come up with some tips to make this time as fun and memorable as the sightseeing itself. So read along and get ready to pack your bags for an adventure!
It’s Time to Get the Car Ready for a Road Trip
Don’t let your car be a downer, save yourself hassle and delays by getting your car tuned up. Use this checklist to make sure your wheels are ready to roll.
Check your oil. Is it time for an oil change or will it be time during the trip? Check this one off your to do list before you hit the road. While you’re at it, don’t forget to look at transmission and differential oil, too!
Top off engine coolant. This is one of those fluids in the car that needs to be topped off once in a while. Make sure you check the manual so you use the right product for your vehicle.
Scan the hoses and belts. The belts and hoses face extreme temperatures under the hood. Check to make sure they’re all in good shape. Keeping a hose patch kit in your car is a good idea, just in case.
Bank on your brakes. Reliable brakes are vital on the road. Make sure the brake fluid doesn’t have a rusty appearance and check to see if you’re due to have this fluid flushed.
Test the tires. Check your tire pressure and tread to make sure they’re both ready to put on a lot of miles. Adding a tire gauge to your car kit is a good idea but, if you don’t have one, most gas stations will have one you can borrow.
Make sure you can see. Check your windshield wiper blades and your windshield fluid. A clear view of the road in any weather is essential for safety.
Look at the battery. If the battery is just a few years old, look it over to make sure there isn’t any obvious corrosion. If it’s older than that, you might want to have a mechanic check the output voltage. Even if your battery is brand new, you’re going to want to add jumper cables to your car travel kit just in case you need to jump start your car.
Clean the car. Long road trips mean you’re spending a lot of time in the car. Start off on the right foot with an interior that feels clean and comfortable.
Road Trip Essentials: Car Games, Travel Snacks and More!
Now that the car is in tip-top condition, it’s time to focus on more exciting aspects of the road trip — fun and comfort, from the perfect road trip snacks to games everyone can play, we’ve created this checklist for you.
First aid kit.Create a car safety kit that has all the supplies you’ll need for minor mishaps and accidents along the way.
Bring smart snacks. Treats on the road can get expensive, which is why it’s a great idea to pack some in advance. It also helps you keep to your good-eating habits. Look for single serving sizes and things that aren’t sticky or melty. Considering bringing: nuts, string cheese, grapes, baby carrots, beef jerky, granola bars, and trail mix. Make sure you bring both salty and sweet treats so you hit those cravings without giving in to junk food temptations.
Stock up on bottled water. Having water on hand isn’t just great for quenching thirst, it also helps with clean up, too! Bring water flavoring packets or drops to add some zip to your water without adding a lot of empty calories. It also saves you from having to buy expensive drinks on the road.
Keep it clean. One way to make your trip more enjoyable is to keep things neat. Bring plastic bags, paper towels and moist towelettes. The plastic bags can hold garbage and are easy to toss at a gas station. They’re also a good place to store souvenirs. Paper towels and towelettes are always useful and keep hands and the inside of the car clean.
Be tech savvy. Prepare to use technology for your entertainment and travel needs. Pack chargers and label the cords so they’re easy to distinguish. Select travel apps that will help with directions, gas stations, lodging, food options, and other necessities. Then download podcasts, movies and music to chase away boredom and maybe do a little educating along the way.
Car games. Try putting the tech aside for a while and play a good, old-fashioned car game. The alphabet game, 20 questions and finding state license plates are classics. Or try your own version of road trip bingo, based on the sites you plan to see.
Plan for comfort. There’s no way around it, long car trips can be uncomfortable. But you can try to make things as cozy as possible by packing pillows and blankets. When it’s time for a pit stop, be sure to get out of the car for a walk and stretch your legs. Sometimes just changing seats helps relieve some aches and pains.
Pack smart. Load your car with the items you won’t need on the road first. Leave the things you’ll need and want in places where they’re easily accessible.
Flexible itinerary. Traffic, road construction and extra stops can add time to a trip and make a rigid itinerary impossible. By creating a flexible plan you give yourself room to hit the highlights and even try a few impromptu excursions. It also gives you some space to take a break when you need one.
Check with insurance. Before you head out on the road, give your American Family Insurance agent a call to let them know your plans and to see if your car insurance is up-to-date. Make sure to ask about travel insurance, too!
With these road trip checklists, you don’t have to worry about your car breaking down, not having what you need or unending boredom. It’s time to relax and enjoy your trip from beginning to end, knowing everything in-between is taken care of.