Be Prepared: Your Summer Road Trip Checklist


road trip as sunset

Spending the summer on the road is one of the great joys people can have the opportunity to experience, and with more and more Americans choosing to work remotely even before the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s also become a lot more popular in recent years. This year, with many people social distancing and crowded outdoor venues canceling summer events, a road trip to see the country is even more attractive. You and your bubble can get a glimpse of wild places and historic sites while staying safe, but you need to be ready for all the challenges that could come your way if you’re going to be trusting your vehicle to carry you thousands of miles during the warmest months.

Pre-Trip Inspection

It all starts with a pre-trip inspection to make sure all your maintenance needs are taken care of before you hit the road. Park over a pad to observe whether it picks up drips that indicate leaks, and remember to individually check each fluid to see if it needs a flush and change. Most of the time you can tell this by the mileage, but it’s also something many experienced mechanics can tell you with diagnostic tests or simple observation. Now’s the time to refresh the radiator and transmission if they’ve been due. It’s also a good idea to inspect the brakes and tires, check the alignment, and get a fresh oil change. This gives you a chance to get other repair recommendations as well.

Get the Gear

Even if you are planning on getting motel rooms for most of the trip, you’re going to want some road gear. Blankets and pillows give you a familiar touchstone and allow you to skip over unfamiliar bedding. More importantly, though, they give passengers some comfortable supplies for naps during after-dark drives or long trips across less eventful parts of the country. It’s also a good idea to have camping supplies for an emergency, even if it’s just the minimal gear needed to put up a rain shelter you can sleep under and not a full tent. You’ll also want to make sure you have hiking boots and other activity-specific gear for when you get out and sight-see.

Risk Management on the Road

Going out with the right gear and a well-maintained car can head off many of the most common problems people face during a long summer road trip, but not all of them. The secret to a safe and fun journey for business or for pleasure is the same. You need to know what to do if there’s a problem on the road. This is where your risk management plan comes into play. Know your insurer and the support resources they offer, and then consider a few other preparations that can make it easier to deal with accidents and mechanical breakdowns on the road.

  • National resources for mobile car glass repair in the event something damages your car windows
  • Enrollment in towing insurance or adding towing support to the extended services on a cellular plan
  • Participation in AAA or another driver’s club with discounts and member benefits that include road support
  • Updated GPS equipment
  • An emergency credit card or other backup funds for unplanned expenses
  • A road emergency kit that includes robust first aid supplies as well as tools and temporary provisions
  • Bottled water for your radiator and your own peace of mind

Being safe while exploring the great unknown is largely a matter of bringing extra physical supplies and keeping the contact information you need for the people who can help you if something goes wrong. As simple as that sounds, finding all the resources you need to feel fully protected while you’re traveling can be difficult. Even this list is bound to be partial, because each individual trip is going to require additional preparation steps and resources unique to its goals and the needs of its participants.

Be Safe in Unfamiliar Surroundings

With proper social distancing and disinfection techniques, traveling this summer can be safe when your wanderlust strikes. The key is keeping away from crowds and keeping yourself covered with masks, gloves, and frequent hand washings when you do need to stop for supplies, while protecting yourself from the regular risks that long-distance travel can pose. One of the best ways to keep yourself safe is to travel with someone you know, like a roommate or significant other. This gives you an extra set of hands and eyes when you need them, as well as an extra brain to pick if you wind up having to troubleshoot anything with your gear.


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