My children are grown now, so I cherish memories of their childhood. Summer days draw me into reverie about those long road trips we would take to visit family or to hopscotch around historical destinations. Jason and Jennifer would sit, buckled in their seats and satisfied—for a while—with gas station snacks. My wife would decipher the map while I watched the countryside slide by my window.
I know my children fought on those trips, and my wife and I grew tired of driving. Occasionally, the car made strange noises and we had to fix it. But, I don’t think much about those moments. I simply praise God for the memories of laughter and fun. The stresses were so trivial that time has nearly washed them from my recollection.
Preparation was the key. Our trips went smoothly because my wife and I thought through every possible need. We made a checklist. And, because I want your road trips to go as well as ours did, I’ve made one for you:
Before you roll out of the garage, make sure you’re driving on tires inflated to the recommended pressure. You’ll find that information on a sticker in the jamb of the driver-side door. Check the pressure in your spare tire, as well, and evaluate the treads on all your tires to see if they’re too worn. It also wouldn’t hurt to get them rotated.
If you’re nearing the scheduled date for your next oil change, go ahead and get it done. Treat your car well and save yourself an immense headache. You also might want to take a quart of oil with you.
3. Insurance Card
Open the glove box and make sure it contains your most recent insurance card. Don’t let an unfortunate pullover become a major incident.
Unless you’ve purchased a new battery in the past year or two, pop the hood and check it. The terminals should be free of corrosion and the positive and negative leads should be tight.
5. Glass Water Repellant
It’s always a good idea to treat your windshield with water repellant before leaving on a long trip. This considerably improves driving visibility in wet weather.
6. Other Checks
Before you leave, have a mechanic evaluate your fan belt, wiper blades, washer fluid, and hoses. Better safe than stranded.
7. Vehicle Emergency Items
Pack an extra gas can and some jumper cables, just in case. You might also want to carry a gallon of water, a flashlight, your car manual, a tire pressure gage, and a car jack, as well as the tools needed to change a tire.
8. Cell Phone Charger
This wasn’t an item on the list when my kids were young, but it’s important now. Don’t get stuck somewhere without a fully powered phone.