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Road trip preparation list

The all-American road trip is a rite of passage for everyone from just graduated students to families, and statistics show it: for the Christmas and New Year’s holiday, 83.5 million Americans drove to their destinations. The trend doesn’t show any signs of slowing anytime soon, and if you’re part of the millions who take to the interstates each year, here’s a checklist to go through before you leave.

Take your car for a check-up

You may be surprised how many families go on trips without giving their car a well-rounded check-up. You don’t want a flat tire in the middle of Texas or your oil changed in Nevada. It may cost a lot, but making sure your brakes, oil, battery and tires are in working order is an important part of your pre-road trip checklist.

Lighten your load at home

Take care of any bills, payments, and physical check-ups you’ve been putting off. If you have time, selling items you no longer need can get you some pocket money for the ride. Companies like offer collection services for your old CDs and DVDs so you can save your car for the trip.

Prepare a playlist

Between mp3s and audio books, you have no reason to be bored on the road. Download some songs and books before you leave and load them onto an mp3 player or smartphone; it’s a lot less messy than a series of CDs, and you won’t have to worry about scratches.

Have emergency supplies

Being stuck in the desert without water or phone signal is more than a nuisance—it’s dangerous. Make sure you have a basic emergency kit for if and when accidents do happen. A flashlight, a first-aid kit, blankets, jumper cables and extra snacks and water can be lifesavers.

Fill your tank and keep it full

Running out of gas on a road trip is something to avoid. Never let the gas meter fall below a quarter tank, and you will ensure -you never run out of gas. It may require more stops, but remember you should be alternating drivers and taking regular breaks to help avoid accidents anyway.

Plan your route

While using a map is a very romantic version of a road trip, a GPS system is much more practical. Many smartphones even feature GPS navigation and have maps built in, so there’s no need to spend any extra money on a navigator.

Wear your seatbelt and follow road rules

Laws differ from state to state. What counts as reckless driving and points off your license in one state is a small penalty in another. Playing it safe is your best option for avoiding accidents and unnecessary fines, especially if your road trip takes you abroad to places where you don’t speak the language, much less understand the laws.

If you make sure you cross off every item on this checklist, you will be perfectly prepared and readied for your road trip. Whatever road you take, be sure to relax, enjoy the scenery, and stay safe.

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