Jack Kerouac and his book On The Road inspired a generation of youngsters to go on a life-changing road adventure You can’t blame these people since Kerouac and the rest of the Beat generation were the epitome of coolness back in the day and even until now. It is perhaps because of him that long drives have been romanticized. Or maybe it’s the allure of these seemingly endless roads that inspired the American writer to go on such adventures on the road.
Whatever the case, you should experience the highs of going on a road trip at least once in your life. You deserve to get out of the crowded city and its ever-worsening traffic situation and just let yourself free while on the road. Of course, there are a few things you need to know before embarking on your road adventure.
Road Adventure Checklist
1. Choose your destination
You can drive away without knowing where you’re going. But that’s more common in films. In real life, that’s not really advisable. If you have a cross-country road trip on your bucket list, you should pick a destination so you can prepare for your road adventure the right way. Lucky for you, there are lots of worthy road trip destinations in the United States. You’re likely to spend a few days on the road. Book a place to stay beforehand or at least find out where the hotels are.
2. Bring road trip snacks
Sharing snacks is part of the allure of long drives. Many will prefer junk food like chips but they tend to be messy. Try something healthier like meat jerky, protein bars, vegetable sticks with hummus, sandwiches, and other road trip snacks.
3. Create a playlist
Long drives and music go hand-in-hand. Simply put, you can’t have a road adventure without the right playlist. Check out Spotify and other music apps for different travel playlists. Better yet, make one yourself.
4. Visit tourist attractions
Make a list of tourist attractions you wish to see while on your road trip. You’re sure to encounter a few so make the most of your road adventure.
Road Safety Tips
5. Prepare your vehicle
You want your car to be in tiptop shape before going on a road trip. Take your car to the shop to have it thoroughly checked and repaired if they find issues. Have them change the oil and filter as well as the sparkplugs, as well. Buy new tires if the old ones have worn-out treads. Check your spare tire, too.
Do some last-minute checkups, as well. Check the motor oil, brake fluid, power steering fluid, coolant, and other fluids. Look under the car to see if there are leaks and oil stains on the ground. The tires should also be inflated properly. Check all lights if they’re working.
Speaking of lights, use headlight covers to protect them from flying rocks and debris. The protective film also prevents the headlight assemblies from oxidation. Plus, they make your car look good.
Your trip will be better and more comfortable if you clean your car. Organize your stuff, too. A disorganized car is an invitation for disaster. Imagine, rummaging through your mess to find your phone or map while driving. That’s a big no-no.
Fill her up a day before your road adventure. This will lessen the risk of running out of gas before reaching the next fuel station.
6. Make sure all documents are in order
Never go on a road trip with an expired driver’s license and unregistered vehicle. Make surreal required documents such as registration papers, pollution under control (PUC) certificate, and insurance policies are up-to-date. Make extra copies, too.
Print out copies of hotel reservations so there’s less hassle when you check in. If there are other permits necessary, make extra copies, as well. Keep all important documents in a waterproof and fireproof container then place them inside the glove compartment where it’s easily accessible.
7. Decide on a destination and route
Once you’ve decided where to go, study the route you’ll be taking. You should stick to the major route or main road but check out the alternative routes, too. It’s a good idea to know these back roads in case you have to take them. It’s also important to know how long it will take to travel all possible routes. Still, you should avoid straying off the path so you won’t end up like the protagonists in Wrong Turn and Wolf Creek.
8. Be aware of vital locations
Do thorough research on your route and destination. Find out where the fuel stations are so you can determine when and where you should refuel. Inform everyone, especially the children, about the rest stops.
Look for police stations, hospitals, clinics, stores, and restaurants. List down or save their contact numbers, especially the police stations and hospitals in each town along your route. While dialing 911 is the first thing to do in case of an emergency, you should still know how to contact them in other ways.
9. Tell someone about your road adventure
Inform relatives or friends that you’re going on a road trip. Make sure they know when and where you are going and when you will get to your destination. Also, tell them when you’ll be back so they can check on you if you did make it home. Show them the route you’re taking and the places where you’ll be staying.
They should also know who you’ll be with and, if possible, their contact numbers. In case they can’t reach you, they can call the other members of your group.
10. Stay in contact with people back home
While on the road, send messages to the people back home. Update them of your whereabouts and condition. Posting on your social media accounts is okay but that would show other people that you’re not at home. Your house can be targeted by thieves so make your posts visible only to your closest friends and relatives.
11. Bring a GPS navigation tool, compass, and road maps
The worst part of a road trip is getting lost. Unless you’re in a Cars movie and turn up in Radiator Springs, it’s best not to make any wrong turns. Bring your phones, tablets, and GPS tracker to get directions.
There’s always the risk of poor internet connection or their batteries running out of juice. Make sure you have a compass and physical maps. Learn how to use them. They are basic survival skills everyone should know.
12. Delegate tasks
Discuss the tasks that need to be addressed while on the road. First, choose the main driver and the backup ones. In a family, the parents usually take turns driving. In a group of adults, those who know how to drive and have a license can take turns on the wheel.
The one riding shotgun is mainly tasked with navigation and keeping the driver awake. They don’t necessarily have to chat all the time. Just check on the driver every now and then to keep them from falling asleep on the wheel.
The front seat passenger is also in charge of the radio. The driver should avoid fiddling with the radio as this will also take his focus away from the road. The passenger is also the second set of eyes who’ll watch the road for any hazards.
When you’re at a rest stop, all the driver has to do is take a bathroom break, stretch out, and relax a bit. The others are in charge of replenishing supplies if needed.
13. Double Check your emergency kits
Your car emergency kit should always be in your vehicle. Every time you have to take them out, make sure to replace what you used before putting it back in your car. Do an inventory of your car emergency kit days before your road adventure. This should give you time to replenish your kit. Read further to learn what should go in your car emergency kit.
14. Don’t drink and drive
This one’s pretty obvious. If you’ve had a drink, you shouldn’t get behind the wheel. Of course, drinking WHILE driving is out of the question. Remember, your life and the lives of your passengers are in your hands. It’s best to be sober and in the right condition when you’re driving.
The same goes for the passengers. They shouldn’t party while on the road. The drunker they get, the louder and rowdier they will be. This can be distracting to the driver.
15. Pull over if you are drowsy or tired
It’s easy to get tired and drowsy during long drives. Stop every now and then to rest and stretch those muscles. If you feel sleepy, pull over and sleep for a while. You can also ask someone else to take the wheel while you get some shuteye. Avoid driving at night since everyone will be tired and sleepy.
16. Obey road rules
You must obey the law. The most important road rules are to wear seat belts at all times and to follow the speed limit. You should also come to a complete stop at red lights and stop signs. Also, never overtake when you can’t see oncoming traffic.
17. Drive defensively
Always be on the side of caution. Avoid driving aggressively. You might get into an accident or cause one yourself if you drive like a madman. Being a defensive driver also lessens the chances of heated discussions or road rage with other drivers. As such, be wary of other drivers. Some people act like they own the road. It’s best to steer clear of such road hazards.
18. Focus on the road
A road trip with friends is loads of fun. As the driver, however, you need to focus on the road and not join in on whatever shenanigan your friends are doing. In fact, it’s for everybody’s good to keep the horseplay to a minimum.
Chit chats are fine but not to the extent that the driver gets distracted. As for snacks, the driver should avoid them as much as possible. If they really want to munch on something, slow down or pull over first.
Taking calls or texting while driving should also be avoided. If the driver has to answer or reply, find a safe spot to pull over first.
19. Don’t drive if you’re unfit to drive
Drivers need their beauty sleep. Try to get enough sleep if you’re the designated driver come morning. You can’t afford to be sleepy while on the wheel. If you’re not feeling well, let someone else do the driving. Don’t drive if you think you’re coming down with something, too emotional after a breakup or receiving some bad news, or if you still have a hangover.
20. Avoid driving in bad weather conditions
Don’t take the risk of driving through a storm or heavy snow. Such weather conditions make the roads even more unsafe. The roads become slippery while visibility gets really bad. Your best option is to wait it out.
In case you’re already on the road when the weather turns bad, find a safe place to stop. First, use your windshield wipers. Then switch the headlights and taillights on. Never turn the hazard lights on while you’re still driving under a heavy downpour.
Slow down and maintain a safe distance from other vehicles. Use your signal lights when you’re moving to the slow lane. Make sure to use your rearview mirror and both side mirrors before making your move. Once you pull over, turn the hazard lights on so other drivers know you’re there.
21. Check accident and crime rates
You’ll be driving through unfamiliar territory so it’s best to get to know as much about them through research. Find out about the places that are prone to accidents so you’ll be doubly careful when you pass through. See if there are safer alternative routes that you can take.
Read up on other people’s road trip experiences and take note of places that they say are unsafe. Some of them may have been victimized by thieves or other troublemakers. Avoid such places as much as possible. Otherwise, just be careful and be wary of your surroundings.
22. Show some respect
Some places have their own tradition, beliefs, and local laws. You have to respect them because that is the right thing to do. Also, that would keep you from getting in trouble with the locals.
In case you’re stopped by the police, stay calm and do what they say. Of course, you should know your rights. If the cop tells you to do something that violates your rights, try your best to remain calm and respectful as you settle the issue.
Car Emergency Kit Checklist
Like you, your car also breaks down. If you’re going on a road adventure to get away from the stress of your everyday life, you need a dependable car to take you places. But even if you take care of your car, you can still get in some kind of trouble while on the road. Make sure you have the right tools and equipment so you can go on with your road trip and make it back home.
As mentioned, you should have an emergency kit in your vehicle at all times. This is even more important if you’re going on a road trip. Your car emergency kit should include the tools you normally keep in your car along with survival gear and supplies to keep you alive in case of emergencies. Check your kit if it has everything listed here.
- Car tools (screwdrivers, adjustable wrench, vise grips, pliers, tire ring, tire pressure gauge, jack, etc.)
- Spare fuses and other small car parts
- Air pump
- Jumper cables
- Towing rope or chain
- Tire chains
- Plastic funnel for adding fluids
- Fire extinguisher
- Foldable shovel
- Road flares
- Early warning device
- Jerry can
- Sand or cat litter
- Seatbelt cutter
- Window punch
- Pocket knife
- Non-lethal self-defense weapons
- Portable lantern
- LED headlamps
- Waterproof matches
- Portable stove
- Glow sticks
- Duct tape
- Bungee cord
- Emergency whistle
- Thermal blanket
- Non-perishable food
- Bottled water
- First aid kit and prescribed medications
- Extra clothes and footwear including weather-appropriate ones
- Wool blankets and pillows
- Bug spray
- Weather radio
- Solar charger
- Extra batteries
- Rain gear
- Ice scraper
- Sleeping bags
- Pen and paper
- Hygiene kit
If you’re on a road adventure with children, make sure to bring what they need. Car seats are required by law so get one for each child under one year old, as most states require. It’s not really ideal to bring an infant on a road trip but if you have to, make sure you have everything you’ll need. Baby stuff such as breast milk or formula, bottles, diapers, a changing pad, nursing cover, baby clothes, and toys. You may also need a baby carrier or stroller.
The list of safety tips and fun ideas for your road adventure goes on. Don’t limit yourself to what you read here. The same with items you need in your car emergency kit. Be wary of the space in your car if you’re thinking of adding more items. Also, avoid placing stuff on the roof of your car. Learn more road safety tips at Gentleman Pirate Club.