Road trips can be a lot of fun, especially if you plan wisely. Here are some tips to help you prepare.
Ensure Your Vehicle is Road Ready
Nothing can be more discouraging than having your car break down while you're on vacation. Before you hit the road, make sure your car is ready to roll. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) advises having a qualified mechanic check your battery, tires, belts and hoses, fluids and air conditioning.
Have Roadside Assistance in Place
If you have car troubles, it's important to have roadside assistance. While it may cost extra, roadside assistance can save you time and money over the long run. Services include jumping or replacing a battery, flat tire repair, fuel delivery, lockout service and towing. For more details about choosing and using these programs wisely, read Edmunds' Roadside Assistance: Who Ya Gonna Call?
Pack a Roadside Emergency Kit
You can purchase a pre-packaged car emergency kit or create one of your own. Experts suggest including a first-aid kit, a toolkit that includes a pocket knife, screwdrivers and wrenches, flashlight and batteries, a fire extinguisher, road flares, jumper cables, a quart of motor oil, a gallon of coolant, a tarp, raincoats or ponchos, blankets, nonperishable food and bottled water. Keep it in your trunk at all times. In addition, make sure you have a cell phone car charger, extra cash for gas in case you can't use your credit card, and a clean, refillable gas can.
Plan and Budget for Your Journey
Before you travel, there are online resources and apps that can help you plan your route and create a realistic budget. For instance, GasBuddy allows you to input your planned destination and your vehicle information so you can calculate your mileage and fuel costs. Sites such as Roadtrippers and Furkot let you plan your trip, discover unique destinations and book lodgings along the way.
Mexico Bound? Get Special Insurance
If you plan to visit Mexico, you'll need special insurance because your American coverage isn't valid across the border. Most people don't realize that not having this special insurance is illegal; if you have an accident, you risk arrest or having your car impounded. You can purchase insurance in a variety of increments — from days to months, depending on how many times you plan to visit. Purchase a policy prior to your trip because if you buy insurance at the border it can be much more costly. If your visit is a spontaneous one, just call SchoolsFirst Insurance Services from the road during business hours and book your policy in minutes. Insurance agents will provide you with your policy number and email you documents for your reference. If you're relying on using digital policy documents from your phone, it's a good idea to take screenshots of them before you cross the border, just in case you can't find a signal when you need it.
Bank Sleep Hours Beforehand
You may think you can get by on just four or five hours of sleep before getting behind the wheel, but you put you and your family in danger if you do. According to a study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic and Safety driving with just four of five hours of sleep is as risky as driving intoxicated. Be sure to get at least seven hours of sleep, and plan your trip so you can take breaks when you need it.
Time for an Insurance Review?
If you have questions about your insurance coverage, our licensed insurance agents are here to help you find the coverage that's right for you. You can get a free quote online or call (800) 462-8328, ext. 4309, Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.; Friday, 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.; and Saturday, 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.
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