Getting Ready for the Family Road Trip

Monday Feb. 15th, 2021

                                                                                            Photo by Katie Moum on Unsplash

With pleasant weather not far off, plenty of car owners are planning spring and summer road trips for themselves or their families. This year is already shaping up to be one of the biggest ever for car-cations because of all the pandemic restrictions on air, bus, and train travel. For many vacationers that means loading up the truck, checking tire pressure, and mapping out destinations for warm-weather fun.

Of course, making plans of how to spend free time is part of the excitement. But, don't forget to make sure your vehicle is in top condition before hitting the highway. Fortunately, you can get plenty of help from online blogs and websites that offer how-to guides, discuss all sorts of car-related topics, and even provide resources if you need to buy a new car before your journey. Here are five things to keep in mind before every road trip.

Tire Pressure and Condition
You can get a lot done with one mechanic appointment. Tell them about how many miles you'll be traveling and be sure they check and adjust tire pressure. If any tires show signs of trouble, replace them now. And, don't forget to check the pressure and general condition of the spare, as many people forget this crucial step.

Engine Inspection
For less then $50 in most major cities, you can have a professional mechanic do a complete inspection of your engine, fluid levels, and all electrical systems of the car. If something major shows up, get it repaired or consider using a different vehicle for your trip. Never attempt to travel in an unsafe car. This is an ideal time to have your oil changed if you're close to the due date for service.

Emergency Kits
Have an emergency box of food in the trunk in case you get stranded. Include at least two gallons of drinking water, non-perishable energy bars, and whatever else you prefer. In addition to food, have a working flashlight, extra batteries, all the necessary tire-changing equipment, a blanket, and two road flares. Another must is a basic first-aid kit. You can get stocked, ready-to-use kits at big-box stores or online for less than $30.

Planning for Safety
Don't announce your travel dates or itinerary on social media sites, but be sure that at least one responsible person knows your detailed plans. Arrange for a couple of check-in phone calls at prearranged times so your contact person will know you haven't been in an accident. If you have a trustworthy neighbor or two, have them keep an eye on your house so they can report any suspicious activity to the police.

Locking Up Your House
Whether your living space is large or small, don't forget to run through the standard check-list. That means turning off and unplugging all appliances except the refrigerator, which can be set up a few degrees, closing blinds and window shades, locking all doors and windows, boarding up pet doors, putting AC and heating units to dormant settings, throwing out foods that are apt to spoil, and giving a key to at least one trusted person who can enter if you need them to.