How to Plan the Ideal Road Trip

While road trips are meant to be spontaneous and freeing, they shouldn’t risk your finances, well-being, or sanity. Here are a few ways traveling novices can prepare for the thrills and rigors of a road trip.

That title may leave some of you scratching your heads; planning a road trip? After all, few American traditions represent spontaneous appreciation of freedom like a spur of the moment trip across the countryside. However, while shedding responsibilities to blaze down the highway with a couple of friends in tow can be carefree and adventurous, it doesn’t need to be risky. Here are a few ways that anyone planning a road trip can ensure that their outing is equal parts memorable and safe.


Insure your trip


There seems to be a variety of insurance for everything these days, ranging from the expected to the outlandish.  Of course, insurance on the vehicle you’ll be driving is a no-brainer necessity. However, additional insurance might be in order if you intend on heading out for a long or indefinite period of time. While road trip or travel insurance might seem superfluous, they can be a lifesaver in protecting your household from financial crisis should something wrong happen during your outing.

These programs can protect you in the case of accident, illness, missing luggage, and countless other scenarios that could put your finances in jeopardy. It’s crucial to invest in a provider who is aware of the specific risks associated with the region you’ll be traveling through, so search for providers in your specific region. If you’re traveling south, it’s probably a little more prudent to search for a Charlotte insurance agency instead of one located somewhere in Europe. Price isn’t king in the insurance world, but coverage that accounts for your specific circumstances is golden.


Conduct a routine maintenance inspection before and periodically throughout your trip


Before hitting the road, the safest course of action is to take the vehicle your group intends to ride and have a routine maintenance inspection performed. It is also wise to perform these checks periodically throughout your trip, especially if your trip is more about going the distance than sightseeing. While having professionals do these inspections is a good idea for the novice, it can be expensive for those on a tighter budget. At the very least, perform these checks:

·         Make sure the car appears level. Sagging tires can be a red flag, and should be addressed immediately.

·         Tires that appear frayed or “feathered” can be an issue, too. Try the “penny test” to test your tire’s tread.

·         Look for any evidence of fluid leakage beneath your vehicle or under your hood.

·         Inspect under the hood for dents, rusting, or other kinds of damage. Anything that looks out of place should be attended to before any extended length of travel.

·         Check hoses and belts for cracks or “worn” appearances.

·         Test your brakes by pressing just hard enough to decelerate quickly. Vibrations or squealing noises can indicate a problem.

·         Check your fluid dipsticks, including oil and transmission.

And, of course, test drive your vehicle before taking it for the long haul. Any sign of poor performance or strange sounds can be a warning sign of something that may put a sudden and risky stop to your road trip at an unexpected point later on down the road.


Establish ground rules


Before heading off, one of the most important ways to make sure that your trip remains free of conflict or misunderstanding is to create a few ground rules. Even if your destination is uncertain, there are several aspects to your trip that should have predetermined rules. These include:

·         How gas, food, and lodging costs will be divided, because being saddled with the cost of putting miles behind your group can put anyone in a foul mood

·         Driving duties, because having one person helm the wheel can be an endurance test to put anyone on the brink (and the risks of driving while fatigued are very real, and can turn deadly)

·         Longevity, because too long of an outing can soon turn your trip into an all-out mutiny if anyone is driven past their comfort zone

·         It’s also crucial to understand the physical and mental limitations of each member of your party, as taking a detour into somewhere potentially dangerous or offensive can spark conflict

With these precautions, a road trip can be an even greater way to beat your everyday worries. When you do not have to worry about consequences to your party or your finances, the classic tradition of road trips can be more carefree than ever.

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