When going on a road trip with other people, between points A and B, plenty of things can happen: the car breaks down, you get lost in the middle of nowhere, you get stuck with annoying companions (yes, friends aren’t friends if you don’t annoy each other to no end every once in a while).
While there’s not much you can do about your travel companions, there are a few things that you can try to make your trip bearable — enjoyable, even.
It all boils down to the right preparation. And the right preparation entails knowing the things that you should avoid for your road trip.
1. Packing too much or too little
Remember, you’re going to be sitting inside a confined space and the last thing that you would want is to make that space smaller for you and your travel mates by bringing too much stuff.
Conversely, you wouldn’t want to go looking for the nearest roadside convenience store to get the things that you forgot to bring.
Days before your trip, jot down all the things that you need to pack and then whittle that list down to the essentials.
2. Wearing the wrong outfit
For a road trip, comfort trumps style. Certainly, nobody wants to look like a slouch, unless that is your shtick.
As a rule of thumb, dress for the weather and choose clothes that allow you to move easily and comfortably.
3. Bringing too many gadgets
The only thing you need to bring is your smartphone for communication and safety purposes, and perhaps, a decent camera. Leave your portable gaming console, laptop, and other devices behind.
Apart from taking up much-needed space in your bag, gadgets can also pull your attention away from the sights and sounds the open road has to offer.
4. Not bringing snacks
If you are not familiar with your travel destination, you could end up wasting a considerable amount of time looking for convenience stores or restaurants.
Save yourself the hassle by packing snacks (and drinks) to keep yourself and your mates satisfied until you reach the nearest stopover or your destination.
5. Forgetting to top off
It may sound like a stupid mistake, but it bears repeating: Fill up your car’s fuel tank before venturing out.
If you are bringing your own car, make sure that you check its fluids, including the motor oil, coolant and brake fluid, especially if you are covering numerous miles for the trip.
6. Ditching the toolkit
Things can go wrong with your car. And it is always better to come prepared than hope that things will go your way.
Make sure that you bring your toolbox with you, which should include a few basic items. These include screwdrivers, a crescent wrench, adjustable pliers, a socket set, zip ties, pocket knife, silicone sealant, tire plugs and tool, and wire cutters.
7. Not getting enough sleep
Unless you are a passenger or you are hiring a chauffeur, make sure that you are well rested for the long drive. Driving when tired can put you, your passengers, and other road users at a considerable amount of risk.
8. Not checking the tyres
Make sure that your tyres are inflated properly and have enough tread to last your journey. And oh, bring a spare and a jack, too.
9. Not bringing cash
On the road, cash is king. For one, some establishments don’t accept credit cards. Second, you would want to have enough cash to buy some of the stuff you see by the roadside.
10. Being a slouch on safety
Don’t become a statistic. Always be mindful of your safety when you are out on the road.
With the ten things you should avoid out the way, what should you do instead to ensure a successful road trip?
Bring a toolkit
As previously mentioned, before venturing out, make sure that your toolbox is inside your car. Many car emergencies can be easily remedied with common tools.
Apart from your tools, you may also want to bring a first aid kit and a phone charger. Make sure that you keep these in a handy place.
Unless there is a hired chauffeur taking care of driving for the whole trip, paying attention to the road and other vehicles and observing safe driving practices is your responsibility.
If you need to reach down for something or if you need to answer a call, park by the roadside first.
Never, under any circumstance, take your eyes off the road.
If your kids are coming along for the ride, make sure that they are entertained to avoid them from distracting you.
Brush up on your maintenance skills
You do not have to be knowledgeable enough to start a career as an auto mechanic. However, you should know how to do a few basic things like checking the tyre pressure and topping off car fluids.
Make sure that your car is roadworthy
Weeks or days before your trip, schedule a visit to a trusted mechanic to have your car checked.
Store heavy items low
Sudden stops can transform items in your car into projectiles. Prevent this by putting heavy items low in the seats. It also helps to batten down items stored in the open cargo area.
Not having fun
Whatever the purpose of your road trip may be (business, pleasure, or a combination of both), remember to have some fun. As the old adage goes, sometimes, it’s the trip, not the destination, that is important.