Rate your last road trip on a scale of 1 to 10. If it scored anything less than 11 then you need to have a look at this list. Good preparation is the secret to the best road trips and that preparation begins with the car. Checking that your car is good to go before you leave will not only give you peace of mind, but may save you from a disastrous road trip - stress you can avoid.
Getting your car ready
1. Book your car in for a service the month before you leave and tell your mechanic that you’re planning a road trip so they take extra care checking for problems that might crop up on a long trip. This is a good time to get your oil changed and your oil filter cleaned or replaced.
2. A week before you leave, check that your registration will cover the period while you’re away and that your license or insurance aren’t due for renewal. Check the clauses on your insurance policy to see what you are covered for and if you are entitled to breakdown assistance. If not, obtain roadside coverage from your local motoring club.
3. A few days before you leave do an overall check of your vehicle including the oil, coolant and tyre pressure (check the spare tyre too).
4. The day before you leave, check the tyre pressure again in case you have a slow leak. Fill up with petrol before you leave so you can get on the road faster the next day.
5. Clean your car inside and out. By the time you reach your destination it may be covered with dust on the outside and full of lolly wrappers on the inside, but at least you know you're starting with a clean slate.
6. Update your GPS so that all your maps have the latest information about road changes. If you’re travelling through a bushfire or flood prone area, it’s a good idea to have emergency alerts sent to your phone while you’re on the road. Traffic websites can also let you know about jams and roadworks ahead, so find the relevant site for the areas you’re travelling through and bookmark them on your phone.
7. Let a trusted friend or family member know where you’re going and when you expect to get back. Ask them to collect your mail and look after any pets which you are leaving behind.
What to pack for a road trip
Perfect planning will mean you pack everything you need and nothing you don’t. Close to perfect is good enough as long as it is packed securely and your don’t overload your car. Just because you can see a space in the back it doesn’t mean you have to fill it. These are the things you’ll need to include:
● Older drivers should carry their medical certificate to go with their license
● A route plan allowing for rest stops and time for traffic and other unexpected delays
● Maps - the old fashioned kind, in case your phone or GPS battery dies
● If you're taking kids, bring devices such as DVD players and electronic handheld games (including chargers), and importantly, enough DVDs so that you don’t have to listen to the soundtrack from Frozen for twelve hours straight
● An ideas list for car games, such as Eye Spy and Spotto
● A contingency plan (or two)
● Accommodation details
● A good road trip playlist on your iPod or CDs