A road trip can be a great vacation for all the family! But if you’re planning on going on a long trip, there are a bunch of things that you’re going to need to do to prepare yourself. Like what? Don’t worry, we’ve got all you need to know about preparing for a great road trip!
Where to Take a Road Trip
Where you go on your road trip is completely up to you, but take some time planning this first! Keep in mind that the real maximum distance for a one day drive is around 800 km. And that’s a LONG day with no sightseeing stops. Most experts recommend that for healthy driving you stop at least once an hour and get out of the car and walk around. You’ll need to consider these things when planning your route.
You’ll also want to prepare for your road trip by getting the appropriate road maps, or downloading the correct maps for your GPS navigation system if necessary. Once you’ve decided where you’re going and how long you’re going to be gone for, it’s time to start thinking about your car!
Preparing Your Car for a Road Trip
Rather obviously, it’s important that your car is in good shape before taking a road trip, since you don’t want any break downs. If your vehicle is close to its service date then you might just want to go ahead and book it into the service station before you go. However, you can check your vehicle yourself before your road trip.
We’ve put together a vehicle inspection checklist for you. You’ll need to consult your car’s user manual to get detailed instructions for how to do some of these things (or Google what you need to do plus your car’s make and model), since the process will vary depending on the kind of car you have. So, here’s what you need to check before your road trip:
Liquids: you’ll need to check that your vehicle has enough of several kinds of liquid before you leave on your road trip (not all cars have all these liquids), including: engine oil, transmission fluid, engine coolant, wiper water/soap, brake fluid and power steering fluid;
Under the Hood: other things you’ll need to check under the bonnet are: air filter (is it clean?), and the state of the battery (does it look corroded? are the connections tight?);
Tyres and Wheels: you’ll need to check air pressure in your tyres (your manual will tell you what the pressure should be) and top up if necessary, and check the tread on your tyres as well, ideally there should be at least 3 mm of tread for a tyre to be safe (don’t forget the spare tyre!);
Outside the Car: check your windscreen wipers for cracks and flexibility, and turn on all your lights to make sure everything is working properly (don’t forget to have someone press the brake so you can see the brake lights);
Inside the Car: again, check all the lights are working (and maybe the stereo too, what’s a road trip without music?), as well as the heating/cooling system;
Your Seat: finally, make sure that the driver’s seat is in the correct position for optimal comfort, in general if you place your feet flat on the floor there should be a 120 degree angle at your knees, the head rest should be no more than 3 cm from the back of your head, you should be able to place your hand at the top of the steering wheel whilst still keeping your back fully on the seat, and the back of the seat should touch all of your back whilst you’re sitting up straight.
Documents for Your Road Trip
You’ll also need to make sure that you have all the paperwork ready for your road trip. Pro tip: make copies of all these things and leave them at home, just in case your car gets stolen! In the glove compartment of your car you should have:
Your vehicle registration papers (required by law);
Copies of your driving license as well as ID card/passport if necessary;
Contact details for any roadside assistance programmes you’re a member of (such as AA);
Details of your car insurance as well as contact information just in case you have an accident.
What to Take In Your Car
There are some things that are pretty obvious, you’ll want to make sure that you have snacks and some water, and maybe a little entertainment too (especially if you’re taking young children). But there are some other necessities that you should make sure are in your car before leaving on a road trip:
A basic tool kit: including an adjustable wrench, jack, screwdriver, and a set of jumper cables;
A basic first aid kit: including painkillers, band-aids, small bandages, and ointments for blisters and burns;
A basic emergency kit: including a large bottle of water, a flashlight with batteries, a blanket, and high energy protein bars (you never know when you might get lost or stuck somewhere!).
Don’t Forget Your Smart Phone!
Most of us these days have a smart phone, and the right apps can make a big difference to your road trip! There are three apps in particular that are there to help you, all are free and all are available for both Android and iPhones.
Waze gives you traffic alerts, so you can avoid jams, as well as letting you know if there are speed traps or other hazards along your way. [email protected] lets you know where the closest petrol station is to your location (handy if you’re in an unfamiliar place). And finally, go! Travel South Africa is a trip planner app that lets you see all points of interest along your route, so you won’t miss out on anything interesting!
Before You Leave on Your Road Trip
Right before you leave on your road trip there are two things that you should do. The first of these is to clean your car. Clean out all the junk from inside to make travelling more comfortable, and do at least a cursory clean of the outside, making sure that your windows, mirrors, and windscreen are clean and that you have good visibility.
The second thing is to make sure that any extras are secure. And by this we’re talking about roof racks, ski racks, and bike racks. If you happen to have any of these then do a walk around and give everything a good pull to make sure that nothing can move or fall!
On Your Road Trip
You’ve finally left home? Great! Remember that you should stop once an hour or so to stretch your legs and rest your eyes. And also keep in mind that driving when tired is dangerous, so if you get sleepy, pull over! Keep to the speed limit, and drive safely. Make sure you know what to do if you’re in an accident, and how to change a tyre (you might want to print these things out!). But most of all, have great time!
A road trip can be a lot of fun, as well as being educational for kids, and giving the whole family the opportunity to see our beautiful country. And as long as you’re well prepared, everything should go smoothly!
Main Subject: road trip
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