Traveling by Car: 5 Preparation Tips for a Long-Distance Road Trip

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Road trips are perhaps one of the most exciting parts of any trip. They allow you not only to see the surroundings on the way to your destination, but they also give you the chance to spend more quality time with your friends and family members. Moreover, they create a unique atmosphere, building up the anticipation of the unknown.

And the more prepared you are for the road trip, the more comfortable it will turn out to be. This is especially important when you plan a long-distance road trip, which requires spending a lot of time behind the wheel and possibly staying awake during the night.

In this article, we will share the five essential tips to help you prepare yourself as well as your vehicle for a worry-free road trip. 

1 – Inspect the Car

It would be better to start preparing for a long-distance road trip by checking your car’s overall condition about a month in advance. You can either go through the diagnostics with a qualified mechanic or at the dealership’s service station, or you can inspect the vehicle yourself – if any problems are detected, you will have enough time to fix them before setting off.

A malfunction of any of the car’s components can cause an accident, so technical inspection is a necessity. If you decide on inspecting your vehicle on your own, here is what you should do:

  • engine maintenance and troubleshooting
  • check the level of liquids and refill them, change the oils in the engine and gearbox if necessary
  • check tire pressure and treads on all of the tires including the spare
  • prepare a car emergency kit that should include a set of tools, extra oil, brake and cooling fluids, first aid kit, tow rope, jack, flashlight, pump or compressor, fire extinguisher, reflective vest, and an emergency stop sign
  • prepare an up-to-date set of car documents, passport, and insurance

If you plan to stay at a campsite, a portable garage is another essential thing to pack with you. The best portable garages are easily installable, protect your vehicle from weather conditions and vandals, and provide you with additional storage space, which comes in handy when reorganizing your supplies during long-distance rides.

You may want to get your vehicle fitted with new accessories as well. For example, weatherproof car covers and floor mats are must-haves to protect your vehicle and keep it clean. Cup holders and organizers add extra storage, and a USB charger ensures your important gadgets are always fully charged and available for use. Protective and miscellaneous accessories are essential to make traveling more convenient.

2 – Prepare a Travel First Aid Kit

Rather than sticking to the general first aid kit you probably already have in your car, it would be better to prepare one yourself. This way, you will be able to consider your and other trip participants’ needs and health conditions as well as the climate characteristics of your destination point. 

Here is a list of the recommended essentials you should include in your travel first aid kit:

  • motion sickness pills
  • remedies for fever and colds
  • anti-allergy medications
  • painkillers
  • antiseptics
  • medications for managing digestive problems
  • thermometer (preferably electronic)
  • bandages
  • sunscreen and burn cream
  • insect repellent ointment

3 – Plan Your Stops

While planning the route seems like an obvious thing, gas station stops and coffee breaks are frequently overlooked or left to be decided on along the way. Usually, this leads to spending too much time behind the wheel and over-tiring the driver.

One of the most beneficial ways to plan your route is to mark all of the reference points on the map – cities, historical and tourist places, natural sites, and places where you plan to stay overnight. Then determine the distance and route between these points – this way, you will be able to evaluate the total time you will have to spend on the road as well as when you will be most likely to need a break or refill the tank.

Remember to ensure that your navigator has up-to-date maps. Download offline maps, or get a paper map – in case some parts of the route have no signal.

4 – Pack Wholesome Snacks

Taking care of snacks and drinks is essential, as it allows you to avoid unnecessary stops at gas stations and avoid satisfying your hunger with fast food, which is neither healthy nor long-lasting. Instead, you’ll want to make sure to get something wholesome and non-perishable on the road with you.

Instead of stocking up on varieties of granola bars, chocolate bars, and candies, it would be more beneficial to opt for hard fruits (apples, oranges, pears), nuts (cashews, pecans, hazelnuts), dried fruits (dates, figs, prunes, apricots). They will keep you full long enough to get to the destination point and where you can have a balanced meal according to the plan.

If you plan to stay on the road for an extended period of time, you should consider bringing along a cooler. It will allow you to pack more sandwiches with meat, cheese, and dairy products without worrying about them going bad. 

Another helpful thing to bring on your road trip is a thermos. If you get a big one, you can prepare freshly brewed coffee before setting off and keep it warm and the driver energized for the long drive. Also, remember to bring plenty of water instead of sugar-filled sodas, as staying hydrated is crucial during long-distance driving.

5 – Keep Yourself Entertained

It is crucial to think about how you are going to entertain yourself and other trip participants while driving for hours. Indeed, spending several hours in a row in a limited space is an excellent way to catch up on the latest life updates, discuss the hottest tv shows or tech trends, or sing along to Spotify’s best road trip playlists.

However, if you are a driver, non-stop talking can distract you from the road, or, at some points, the passengers will just take a nap. So, in order to keep yourself focused and entertained, you should have some options.

Listening to audiobooks or podcasts is perhaps the best solution, as they allow you to entertain yourself and learn something new simultaneously. However, mind that long monotonous speeches can make you sleepy, so it is recommended to listen to them in headphones instead of speakers.

Final Note

When planning your long-distance ride, it is equally important to take care of safety measures and entertainment. Checking your car, preparing for the unexpected, packing a first aid kit and healthy snacks are key elements of any stress-free road trip. Knowing your stops in advance will also allow you to reduce the time behind the wheel and make sure you get enough rest during the trip.

Remember to check your documents, get enough sleep before setting off, drive safely and have fun!

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