Summer is the perfect time to hop in the car and hit the open road for a spontaneous road trip. It’s always exciting to explore new places and make unforgettable memories with family and friends. Although it’s tempting to just get in the car and go, it’s a good idea to take the time to properly prepare so you can leave your worries behind.
Here is a list of things you can do to set up your road trip for success:
Check Vehicle Maintenance Before You Leave: Prioritizing vehicle maintenance will prevent problems that are easily avoidable. Change your oil and check your brakes, brake fluid, coolant, air filter, windshield wiper fluid, and battery. Visit your local auto shop for a tune-up to make sure your ride is ready to go. In addition, make sure you have a full gas tank before leaving.
Clean Your Car: Being in a clean car will make your trip more comfortable. Vacuum the inside and remove any garbage or other items that you won’t need in your vehicle. Wipe down your windows and mirrors to have a clear view of the road.
Pack an Emergency Kit: Having an emergency kit in your vehicle is always a good idea, especially during a road trip. It is better to be overprepared than underprepared. A useful emergency kit includes jumper cables, a first-aid kit, a flashlight, blankets, etc.
TIP: Do you have a roadside assistance service? Talk to an Authorized Maryland Auto Provider about adding emergency roadside assistance before you hit the road.
Create a Plan: Leave potential conflict and indecision behind. Make sure everyone agrees on your vacation destination. Having a structured plan is optimal, but it is important to remain flexible.
Plan Stops Along the Way: Though you may be eager to reach your destination, block out some time in your schedule to stop, stretch your legs, or use the bathroom. During these breaks, you can refill your tank with gas and check your vehicle to make sure everything is running smoothly. Even though you feel like you don’t need to stop, passengers in the car might appreciate a chance to stretch their legs or take a bathroom break.
Bring Snacks: Packing snacks is a smart idea. Convenience stores can get expensive, and in some areas, there aren’t any stops for miles. Create a list of snacks that you and your friends enjoy and have them in a place within reach. You should also bring plenty of water so everyone can stay hydrated.
Pack Necessary Documents: Keep documents like your driver’s license, registration, and proof of insurance handy. Even if you aren’t the driver, you should still have your license on you. If you anticipate on crossing foreign borders, include your passport or visa.
Ditch Drowsy Driving: Drowsy driving is just as dangerous as drunk driving. If your road trip is lengthy or will require driving in shifts, make sure you always have a driver who is rested and alert.
Get Rest: Driving for hours on end is draining. Get to bed at a reasonable time the night before, and even stop for a caffeinated beverage in the morning for energy. Exhaustion can cause you to lose focus, cause stress and irritability while driving. Avoid driving at night as well since there is a higher chance of drunk drivers on the road.
Prepare for Inclement Weather and Traffic: Before hitting the road, check the weather for the areas that you will be driving through, not just your destination. In addition, using Google Maps or Waze will assess traffic patterns and suggest an optimal time to leave. Driving in inclement weather can be risky and time-consuming.
RELATED: Six Tips for Driving Safely in the Rain
No matter the length of your trip, you’re bound to have a good time. For some ideas on great local trips, check out Visit Maryland’s Guide to Scenic Byways & Road Trips.