How to Prepare for a Long-Term Road Trip

A road trip can result in incredible experiences. Whether you’re traveling for vacation, work, or living the van life, there are opportunities for discovery. However, you should never just improvise a long-term road trip. 

To make your ride more comfortable, safe, and positive, it’s vital to spend some time making preparations. One of the mistakes many people make is not considering the full scope of the prep that should be in place to make your trip a success. This shouldn’t be something you find overwhelming. In fact, creating checklists before embarking on your adventure can take a weight off your shoulders.

So what should you prepare for your long-term road trip and how can you best go about doing so? Let’s take a closer look at a few key areas of focus for your checklists.

Your Vehicle

Your vehicle is what makes your road trip possible. Without some attention to it before you leave, you aren’t just risking being stranded with a broken-down car. You could also be putting yourself and other road users in danger. 

Your vehicle preparation checklist should include:

  • Maintenance

It’s vital to make sure your vehicle is in good working order. This should include making certain the tires are inflated to the right pressure (around 32-35 psi) and that the tread is of sufficient depth. You can test the tread depth and consistency using a quarter and a penny, but you should also check for foreign objects.

Make sure your fluids are topped up, too. Pay attention to the levels of your engine oil, engine coolant, transmission fluid, and brake fluid. It’s also wise to replace your brake pads if necessary. Remember to check each of your lights — including the emergency lights — is working. If you’re not confident in performing this maintenance personally, seek professional assistance.

  • Emergency Items

If something goes wrong on the road, you don’t want to find yourself unprepared. As such, there are emergency items you should have in your car at all times so you can effectively manage difficult scenarios. This should include tools to handle unexpected issues with your vehicle, such as jumper cables, duct tape, and a spare tire. Your car should also be equipped with a well-stocked first-aid kit, flares, a high-visibility vest, and a reliable flashlight. These items ensure that even if you’re far from a hospital or have to wait for help, you’re not at additional risk.

Some emergency items you should have in your car will pertain to the climate you’re traveling through. If you’re around snowy or icy conditions, it’s important to carry antifreeze, an ice scraper, and foil blankets. In hot weather, it’s vital to have plenty of water both for yourself and your vehicle.

Your Home Life

You may be leaving the trappings of your regular life for a while to enjoy time on the road. But this doesn’t mean these elements simply cease to exist. The last thing you want is to return from your trip to find you have to deal with issues that have occurred while you were away.

Your checklist here should include:  

House

There are various problems that can affect an unattended home when you’re traveling over a long period. This includes the potential for your home to be broken into or for damage to occur. Make certain all your doors and windows are closed and locked and that you have a reliable security system in place. Check the weather forecast for the time you’re away so you can prepare sandbags, storm windows, and loose external objects accordingly.

However, it’s not just the larger elements of your home you should prepare. Make certain all electrical items are unplugged and that your thermostat is set to remain off. It can also be a smart idea to turn off your water at the mains. This can prevent the potential to run up unnecessary utility bills in your absence. 

Pets

If you have pets you can’t take with you, you’ll need to arrange for their care. This doesn’t just involve finding one person who can check in on your pets every day. Arrange for a backup carer, too. You may be away for some time and you don’t want your pets to be neglected in the event of an emergency.

Indeed, you should also make sure your chosen carers have easy access to your pets’ emergency information. Before you leave, talk them through your pets’ food, drink, and exercise needs. Ensure they have the number of the local veterinarian and access to your pet insurance documents.

Your Journey

Your journey can be an exciting experience. You likely have various tourist points already marked out on your map. Maybe you’ve arranged to meet friends or family members along the way. But there are also some aspects of your time on the road you shouldn’t leave until you’re already out there. Taking some time to prepare these elements of your journey can make the entire experience more positive.

Your road trip checklist must include: 

Food

We live in a society in which, wherever you’re traveling, there are likely to be restaurants at all points along the way. However, relying on this can be expensive and you won’t always find the healthiest options. This isn’t to say you can’t occasionally treat yourself, but it’s wise to map these out on your journey so you can identify spots with reasonable prices and good menus. 

Wherever possible, prepare some sandwiches and snacks before you leave home. If you have a camping stove, you can also take ingredients to make breakfast and evening meals when you stop off for a rest at a local beauty spot or camping area. But it’s also smart to stock up on non-perishable items — such as trail mix, crackers, and jerky — that you can keep for emergencies. 

Comfort

You and your traveling companions will be spending a significant amount of time in your car. It’s important to prepare resources and methods for making your traveling experience more comfortable. There are various different types of physical, mental, and emotional discomfort you can experience, so it’s worth considering each of these areas.

Make sure your car has enough legroom so you don’t feel cramped, and position firm pillows to prevent back pain. Downloading a guided meditation app can help you minimize the stress of the journey. Don’t forget to pack medications for pre-existing conditions as well as over-the-counter items for pain, motion sickness, and allergies.

Conclusion

Taking a long road trip can open you up to some incredible experiences. However, you’ll find you get the most out of it with some solid preparation. Make certain your vehicle is well-maintained and contains sufficient emergency items. Take steps to ensure your home and pets are protected while you’re away.

You can also have a more pleasant journey by arranging your food and comfort needs in advance. Planning takes a little extra effort, but it also means you have less to worry about on the open road.


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