When most people take a trip, they just take what they think are the essentials…clothes, toiletries, etc.
Here at Comedy Guys Defensive Driving, we teach you that there is more to traveling than just getting in the car and going. Not enough drivers plan ahead and tend to get caught short in an emergency.
Sure, you need to carry the essentials, but you also need to prepare for the unexpected.
MAKE SURE YOUR CAR IS IN WORKING ORDER.
The first thing you need to do if you’re planning a trip is to make sure your car is as ready to go as you are. If you haven’t had a tune-up or oil change for a while, make sure you do it.
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And be aware of the quirks of your engine: if you know that your car uses a lot of coolant or oil or some other messy, sticky automotive supply, take some extra with you. You don’t want your vehicle to poop out on you half way there.
Make sure that all four tires and the spare tire have the right amount of air that they’re supposed to. Look for worn tread or anything else that will tell you that your tires need to be replaced. If they do need to be replaced…replace them. There’s nothing more annoying that to have a flat when you’re taking a trip, because of both the time wasted, and the fact that now, you don’t have a spare if anything happens to any of the other tires. If you DO have a flat, go into the nearest town and get another one. You don’t want to be hundreds of miles from home without a spare tire. It wouldn’t hurt to have a few cans of Fix-a-Flat in your car either.
ITEMS TO TAKE WITH YOU
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Make sure you are carrying emergency items in your trunk before you hit the road. Pack gloves and a coat. It might be warm and sunny in your home state, but if you’re traveling north, the weather may be drastically different from where you live. You don’t want your car to break down in Canada and be caught with nothing but shorts, sandals, and a tank top, because that’s what everyone is wearing at home. Pack extra clothing that will keep you warm in an emergency. It’s also good to check the weather forecast of the area you will be driving to. Know if they’re expecting sunshine, rain, or snow.
You should also take an emergency car kit with you, complete with flairs, reflectors, flashlight, batteries, work gloves, fuses, etc. Make sure you have a working jack and the proper tire-tool to remove your lug nuts. It’s always good to have a poncho or a rain slicker in case you have to change a tire in the rain…and speaking of bad weather, it’s also good to have snow chains, a shovel, a couple of two-by-fours…and even kitty litter. Two-by-fours! Kitty litter! A shovel! Yes, these are things that can get you out of mud, ice or snow. If you’re stuck in one of these, you can use the shovel to scrape away excess mud, snow, or ice, away from the tires. You can put the two-by-fours behind your tires to give you traction, or you can spread kitty litter around the tires, which, believe it or not, can also give you traction, much like gravel or asphalt can.
PLAN YOUR ROUTE
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There are lots of little things that you must think about, too. Whether you do it by hand or use some online mapping service like Google or Mapquest, map out your route in advance. You should know your route before you get in the car — and like we said before — know what the weather forecast is along the route. You never know, a blizzard could be heading towards places along your route. If you won’t have online access along the way, it also doesn’t hurt to google car repair places along the route. Look up the major and minor cities along the route, and write down auto body shops, especially the ones that have 24-hour towing.
This might sound like a little much, but you’ll think differently if your car breaks down in the middle of the night on some long, lonely, highway in the middle of nowhere.
REST UP BEFORE SETTING OUT
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Lastly, get lots of rest before you begin your journey. There are thousands of wrecks each year caused by drivers falling asleep at the wheel. Don’t leave just after a hard day’s work. Wait until you’ve gotten some sleep and some rest.
If you’re driving alone, you should pull over every couple of hours and stretch for a little while. If someone is with you who can drive, let them drive every hour-and-a-half to two hours no matter how you feel. You might not feel tired, but it’s still best to always have a fresh driver. Even if you aren’t tired, let the other person drive anyway. When it’s your turn to drive again, you’ll be good and rested.
And speaking of rested, it’s good to know what hotels are along the route when you take a long trip. If you’re going to be driving for several days, go ahead and book a room for the night.
Once again, you may not feel tired when you get there, but your body needs the rest. Many drivers find out the hard way that sometimes, there are no hotels, motels, or lodges available, because the area is hosting some big event that draws people from all over. You don’t want to be stuck sleeping in your car. It’s uncomfortable AND dangerous.
So, the next time you take a long trip, be prepared. Take the time to have everything in proper order. It’s best to be prepared and not need to use anything, than it is to be unprepared and be caught short.