“Are we there yet?” If you’re a parent, this phrase is probably very familiar, since you’ve likely heard it every time you embark on a road trip. A road trip with the whole family can be a ton of fun, but it can also be a little stressful to manage everyone’s hunger, thirst and, of course, the dreaded bathroom breaks. The last thing you need is for your car to break down. Before you pack everyone into the car and start playing the spot-the-license-plate game, you can make sure your vehicle is in prime working order by prepping your car with these easy steps.
Get a Tuneup
Even if you’ve had an oil change and inspection recently, it’s still a good idea to take your car to a shop. The mechanics can top off fluids, check your filter and spark plugs, and make sure that your headlights and taillights are in working order. They’ll also check the windshield wipers and turn signals, in addition to making sure the engine and battery are in good condition. Be sure to ask them to take a look at your tires and see to it that they’re sufficiently inflated, so you don’t get a flat tire on the road.
Pack a Survival Kit
You probably just verified that your car is in top shape, but you should still pack jumper cables in case you break down. You might be traveling to a warm area, but it’s still a good idea to pack some blankets and a flashlight. In case there is an emergency, the vehicle should also have flares and a first-aid kit.
Bring the Fun
Do you have a son or daughter that won’t leave the house without his or her stuffed animal? If you’re traveling with kids, you’ll want to keep them occupied so they don’t distract you from the road. It’s a good idea to bring some travel games, books and other toys that can engage young children. Snacks are an essential item, too — so pack some healthy and tasty items, and a whole lot of water.
GPS is Your Co-Pilot
Everyone knows the old vacation caricature of a dad who’s lost his way, but refuses to ask for directions. Even if you’re the savviest navigator, you may run into a detour that throws you off your course. Use the GPS on your smartphone, or invest in a larger GPS that offers more detailed maps. You can buy an inexpensive mount and affix your navigation system to your dashboard for easy viewing. If all else fails, you can use a paper map. Make sure to mind the road, or have another passenger dictate the route to you.
Don’t Overdo It
You’re probably worried about forgetting something at home. This can lead to stuffed luggage and a crammed trunk. This can be problematic if you need to get something in a hurry. Too much weight can also affect your car’s fuel efficiency, so make sure you’re taking the bare essentials, and a few fun things for the kids.
Prepping your car before a family road trip will help ensure that flat tires or squeaky brakes don’t slow you down. You’ll also have the supplies you need to keep your little passengers occupied along the way. These tips will give you the edge to get there safe and sound. All you’ll have to worry about is getting to the destination and taking in the view along the way. Bon voyage!