Preparing for an Unforgettable Road Trip
There is nothing quite like hitting the open road and experiencing the sights and small stops along the way to driving towards a vacation destination. Embarking on a road trip is an exciting adventure filled with new destinations, scenic routes, interesting rest stops, and above all, unforgettable memories. We absolutely love road trips and try to fit them in throughout the year.
Although there is an attractive spontaneity to road trips, being prepared helps to avoid unwanted disruptions, so you can enjoy your time exploring and not dealing with issues along the way. Before hitting the open road, however, it’s crucial to ensure your vehicle is in optimal condition to ensure a safe and hassle-free journey. In this post, we’ll provide you with a comprehensive vehicle checklist that covers everything from maintenance tasks to essential items to pack for your upcoming road trip. Whether you are driving your gas-powered or electric vehicle, we’ve got you covered! Now, let’s get you ready to drive with confidence and make the most of your road trip experience.
Oil and Fluids:
For traditional vehicles (ICE – Internal combustion engine), it is crucial to check and top up engine oil, coolant, brake fluid, power steering fluid, and windshield washer fluid levels. It may be a good time to get an oil and filter change, before your road trip, therefore ensuring adequate oil life for your trip. If you’ve got an Electric vehicle (EVs), however, you don’t need to worry about any of those fluids, except the windshield washer fluid.
Inspect tire pressure, including the spare tire, and make sure they’re properly inflated to ensure the highest level of safety and fuel efficiency. Equally as important, maintaining the recommended tire pressure on your EV will also ensure safety and will optimize battery efficiency. Recommended tire inflation is typically found on the door jam of the driver’s side door. Some vehicles have tire monitor systems that can verify pressure on the car’s computer display. Alternatively, check the owner’s manual. Ensure the tread of the tires is not worn past the wear indicators and no visible damage (like cuts or cracks) can be seen on the sidewalls.
In traditional vehicles, check the vehicle’s battery terminals for corrosion and also ensure a secure connection. In EVs, ensure the battery is charged and consider any pre-trip charging needs. Familiarize yourself with the charging infrastructure along your planned route.
Inspect headlights, taillights, brake lights, and turn signals to ensure they’re working correctly. In addition, ensure the lights show no signs of cracking.
Wipers and Washer Jets:
Check the condition of the windshield wipers and replace them if necessary. Ensure the washer jets are clean and functioning properly.
Test the brakes for any signs of grinding or squeaking noises. If needed, have them inspected and serviced by a professional. Unquestionably, brakes are an important factor in your vehicle’s safety, so air on the side of caution. If you are bringing your car in for an oil change, most garages will offer a multi-point inspection, which also covers checking the brakes, and will put your mind at ease.
Tips for EV Vehicles
Research and plan your route with charging stations along the way. Use apps or websites that provide real-time information on EV charging locations and availability. Teslas come equipped with trip planning capabilities, making charging on your road trip much easier, but still, ensure you are aware of other charging options along the way. Some great apps to search for charging stations are PlugShare, ChargeHub & ABRP.
Pack the necessary charging cables for different charging options, including a mobile charging cable or charging adapters to ensure you can plug into the variety of charger ports available. In North America, the most common type you’ll find are: J1772, CCS, CHAdeMO & Tesla. There are adapters available to convert some of these to what you have on your EV. If you are renting your EV, ask the rental company for adapters to see if they’ll provide them to you.
Understand your EV’s range and factors that can affect it, such as weather conditions, driving speed, and terrain. Use the Tesla built-in trip planner to have your stops automatically planned. Alternatively, use an app like A Better Route Planner (ABRP) to plan your stops prior to hitting the road. Plan your stops accordingly and periodically monitor your battery consumption to ensure you have sufficient range to reach the next charging station.
Take advantage of your EV’s pre-conditioning feature, which allows you to heat or cool the interior while the vehicle is still connected to the charger. This helps optimize battery efficiency and comfort during the trip. Schedule your charging to coincide with departure times.
Maximize your EV’s efficiency by using regenerative braking, and eco-driving techniques. Plus, minimizing unnecessary energy-consuming features like excessive air conditioning or heating can improve your range dramatically. Plan your route to include scenic drives and avoid excessively hilly or challenging terrains that may drain the battery faster.
Essential Vehicle Items to Bring on Your Road Trip
Spare Tire and Jack:
Make sure you have a fully inflated spare tire, along with a jack and lug wrench to change a flat tire if needed. Some vehicles (specifically EVs) may not come with a spare tire, so ensure you have a tire repair kit or roadside assistance plan.
Tools and Emergency Kit:
Pack a basic toolkit with essentials like a screwdriver, pliers, and an adjustable wrench. Include an emergency kit with items such as a first aid kit, flashlight, jumper cables, and reflective triangles. Some hardware or automotive stores sell small emergency kits that are great to keep in your trunk. They are so valuable in the off-chance you experience a breakdown.
Carry your driver’s license, vehicle registration, and proof of insurance. It’s also a good idea to have a copy of your vehicle’s owner’s manual.
Roadside Assistance Contact Information:
Save the contact details of your roadside assistance provider or an emergency helpline in case you need assistance during the trip.
Maps and GPS:
Have a physical map or atlas as a backup, even if you rely on GPS navigation. Familiarize yourself with the route beforehand to minimize the chances of getting lost.
What to Pack for Your Road Trip
Pack appropriate clothing for the weather conditions at your destination. Include layers for changing temperatures and any specific items needed for outdoor activities such as hiking or swimming.
Don’t forget to pack essentials such as travel pillows, blankets, and earplugs for added comfort during long drives. Also, pack a small trash bag and wet wipes for easy clean-ups.
Snacks and Drinks:
Stock up on non-perishable snacks like granola bars, trail mix, and dried fruits. Bring a cooler for perishable items and beverages to keep them fresh and easily accessible. Be aware of rules regarding crossing country borders with food items, specifically fruits, vegetables, and meat products.
To keep yourself and your passengers entertained, consider packing books, magazines, playing cards, or portable games. If you have kids, bring along their favorite toys or activities to keep them engaged. Download playlists ahead of your trip to avoid data streaming. With enough entertainment, you will may even minimize the question – Are we there yet?
Electronic Devices and Chargers:
Bring your mobile phone, GPS device, and any other electronic devices you rely on for navigation and communication. Don’t forget to pack their chargers and cables. Ensure you have a travel plan for your phone if you are crossing borders into other countries. Alternatively, installing an e-sim on your phone is an economical way to prevent data roaming charges while traveling. I have found Airalo offers the best selection and very reasonable pricing for e-sims.
Carry a physical or digital copy of important travel documents such as your driver’s license, passport, hotel reservations, and emergency contact numbers.
Pack personal hygiene items like toothbrushes, toothpaste, shampoo, and any necessary medications. It’s also a good idea to have a basic first aid kit with bandages, pain relievers, and any prescription medications you may need.
Cash and Cards:
Carry enough cash for tolls, parking fees, or emergencies. Also, bring your credit or debit cards for additional payment options.
Remember to customize this packing list according to your specific needs and the duration of your road trip. By packing smartly, you’ll be well-prepared for any situation and enjoy a stress-free journey.
Preparing your vehicle, whether it’s a traditional vehicle or an EV, is vital for a smooth and enjoyable road trip. By following this comprehensive vehicle checklist, you’ll make sure you won’t mess up your road trip vibe by experiencing an unexpected situation. Remember, a well-maintained vehicle sets the foundation for a memorable and worry-free road trip experience. So, buckle up, let’s hit the road, and embrace the adventures that await!