Getting ready for a road trip involves more than just checking your maps. You’ll need to prepare your car and make sure it can handle the miles you intend to cover. After all, no one wants to take a road trip and end up spending time on the side of the road waiting for assistance.
Most road trip preparations start with deciding where to go and the route you’ll take. You may even begin compiling a playlist you can bop along to as your motor eats the miles. Making sure you prepare your car early on, should be a priority too. If your car’s not up to the task, it’ll give you time to find alternatives.
Our seven car preparation tips will make sure you’re completely sorted and ready to turn your plans into action. We’ve even included a couple of tips to make managing those miles a little more fun.
#1 Check your car over
Before you go anywhere, you’ll want to be sure your car is up to the task you’re planning. Car preparations should include a quick assessment of your vehicle. If you’re regularly getting stuck with a drained car battery or know your tyres could do with replacing, now is the time to sort it out.
If you find it is too much for your regular car, you can always look into car hire.
Assuming your car is able to manage the miles you plan to cover, you’ll want to give it a little TLC before you go. Prepare your car by checking the oil and fluids. Top oil up if it’s below the halfway mark on your dipstick. Top up your windscreen wiper fluids, the engine coolant, and give your tires a once-over too.
If your tires are a little more worn at the front than the back, get your wheels aligned, balanced and maybe rotate your tyres before you go. Goodyear has some worthwhile tyre care tips for while you’re on the road too.
Of course, you should also make sure your tyres are inflated to the right pressure for the load you’ll carry while you’re away.
#2 Install some tech
It’s easy to get lost on unfamiliar roads and the easiest way to navigate is with a sat nav. Make sure you prepare your car with the essentials like a mobile phone cradle, charging devices, Bluetooth, and a dash cam.
If your mobile is going to serve as sat nav, get a holder that will let you place it in an easy to see spot. The centre of the dash, to the right or lower part of your windscreen are all good choices. Glancing down at your phone while you’re driving isn’t only dangerous it’s now illegal too. Using your phone as a sat nav without a cradle is banned under the new phone use laws for motorists.
#3 Check your insurance policy
Some insurance policies limit the number of miles you’ll cover each year. It’s worth checking your policy before you head off into the wide blue yonder. If your trip will take you over your yearly allowance, give your insurer a call to update the policy.
Underestimating your mileage, or exceeding the agreed mileage for your policy can invalidate your cover. If this happens, your insurance company is well within its rights to reject a claim.
#4 Check and stock your emergency kit
As they say, it’s better to hope for the best and prepare for the worst. Making sure your emergency car kit is fully stocked and ready for the worst is a crucial part of road trip preparation.
The items in your emergency kit should vary with the seasons, but always include basic first aid supplies, a high-visibility vest and an emergency reflective triangle. When you prepare your car for a road trip, consider the terrain you’ll cover and make sure you have what you need in your emergency kit if you happen to get stuck.
#5 Consider roadside assistance
Most insurance policies include some sort of roadside assistance with them. When you check your policy for allowable mileage, check the roadside assistance package too. If it’s not enough to give you peace of mind on your road trip, consider updating your insurance or taking out separate roadside assistance cover with Green Flag, AA or one of the other major providers.
#6 Clean, pack, and prepare your car for comfort
When you prepare your car for a road trip, it pays to think of comfort as well as safety. A dirty, smelly car isn’t pleasant to drive in. Give your wheels a thorough clean, inside and out before you hit the road.
Consider getting yourself a car rubbish bin, or some other receptacle for collecting wrappers, bottles and other debris that would otherwise collect on the floor of your car. It’s not just kids that can turn your car into a tip. Keeping your car clean as you travel will make for happier travelling for all.
Aside from making it an unpleasant space to occupy, rubbish rolling around in your car can be a safety hazard if it finds its way into the driver’s footwell.
When packing your car for a road trip, make sure you leave enough room for the driver and passenger to sit comfortably and see out of all essential windows and mirrors. It also helps to pack neck cushions or pillows, plenty of snacks and drinks, wipes, blankets, and chargers too.
#7 Arrange a cash stash
While most payments are made with some sort of card these days, having a handy and hidden cash stash on a road trip can get you out of a tight spot. If your purse or wallet gets stolen, or you find yourself in the back of beyond without any network connection for smart payment options, a cash stash will keep you rolling.
Make sure you keep your cash in a secure and secret place in your car and separate from your wallet. Including it in your emergency kit, or a lockable compartment such as the glove box is a good idea.
Taking a road trip is a lot of fun, and we have some great ready-made routes through England, Wales, Scotland, and even France that you can choose from. If you prepare your car well, you’re almost guaranteed to have one of the most memorable and enjoyable journeys of your life!