Getting the Most out of Life

The Ultimate Road Trip Checklist, From Essentials to Entertainment

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A road trip checklist can make the difference between a memorable travel experience and a forgettable—or decidedly bad—one. Hitting the open road with family, friends, or even just yourself is a lot more fun if you prepare for the drive beforehand.

Getting There in One Piece

Road trips are all about the journey, but you still need to make sure you get to your destination and back without any problems. Here are some simple steps to prepping your wheels:

  • Get a full inspection. There’s no way around this one. The many moving (and not moving) parts of a car should be checked before any extended drive, especially if the weather is particularly hot or cold. Unless you’re a car expert in your own right, be sure to bring your vehicle to a reputable pro. A tire pressure check, oil change, and battery test are some of the things that need to happen before your vehicle gets the green light.
  • Have a lifeline. While changing a flat tire is an essential skill, you could end up in a situation that requires a helping hand, such as changing two flat tires at once. Check with your auto insurance company and see if you have or can sign up for roadside assistance. If you’re concerned about the expense, you can always cancel it after your trip. Consider a AAA membership, as well. This association is known for its reliability and roadside service.

Preparing for Emergencies

Here are some essentials to keep in your car regardless of how far you’re going:

  • Cell phone charger. Your phone can serve as a GPS, tour guide, and entertainment center all in one. Buy a car charger to keep it juiced for your entire ride.
  • Water and nonperishable snacks. Having some Mountain Dew on hand is nice, but bottled water is invaluable. You might end up stranded, and hydration isn’t something you should leave up to chance. Pack some granola bars or crackers, too, to minimize stops and save your eating-out budget for your destination.
  • Flashlight. A regular flashlight works much better than a cell phone light. It’ll come in handy for middle-of-the-night tire changes, for example, or if you drop your keys. Be sure to pack fresh batteries.
  • First aid kit. Pack the essentials, including prescriptions and pain relievers, contact lens solution, bandages, and whatever else you deem necessary.
  • Blanket. In case your car breaks down and it’s cold outside.

Staying Entertained

Once you cover the basics, it’s time to have some fun on your drive. Here are some options for passing the time on long trips:

  • Audio books. Road trips are a great opportunity to expand your mind. Have a good book or learning CD ready, especially if you’re going solo. You can download these from sites such as Audible or borrow them from your local library.
  • Toys. Traveling with children has the potential to test your sanity, so keep toys in the back seat and play movies or music the little ones will love.
  • Driving games. Keep things light by playing some driving games. We can never resist a classic game of Punch Buggy.
  • Rest. When you stop to fill up the car or get a bite to eat, don’t be all business. Take some time to stretch, relax, and enjoy your surroundings.

Those who are most prepared usually run into the least trouble. Create a stress-free trip by following this road trip checklist, and be sure to have some fun while you’re at it!

Syed Hussain is a blogger and freelancer specializing in personal finance, millennial issues and healthcare.  He especially makes personal finance simple and easy to understand for college students and young professionals.