Get Summer Road Trip Ready with These 5 Steps to Prep Your Car for a Road Trip
Summer is here and that means people are taking their summer vacations. We’re not the only ones with road trips on the books this summer! We just took one road trip to Sunriver, OR, and we’ll be taking a second next week. The best way to enjoy a road trip experience is to be prepared before you head out on the open road. While you can never guarantee that you won’t run into any issues along the way (ask me about our January road trip to Tahoe!), you can certainly eliminate a slew of potential issues by being prepared if you prep your car for a road trip. get summer road trip ready with these 5 car care road trip tips and ensure you’re ready for whatever comes your way.
Thanks to the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) for sponsoring this post. As always, all opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links.
Perform Regular, Basic Car Maintenance and Repairs
A well-maintained car is cardinal for any road trip. The most important step before heading out for a road trip is making sure your car is ready for a long trip. Ensure you are up-to-date on any scheduled maintenance for your vehicle so you have no safety concerns. You’ll probably want to make sure you have a fresh oil change depending on when your last one was done. Make sure you check your tire pressure and top off all your fluids such as windshield washer fluid and anti-freeze. If you take your car in for an oil change, they will likely do a basic safety check, including a fluid top-off for you, included in the price of your oil change. Make sure you don't have any critical outstanding repairs, either.
Stock Your Emergency Kit
Make sure you have the essentials in your car for your road trip. The most important essential is a roadside emergency kit, including jumper cables, flares or triangle reflectors, a flashlight, a tire iron, and a space blanket. You need to know how to change your own tire. My dad didn’t let me get a license until I could manage my own essentials, including changing a tire, changing a spark plug, checking and filling my own oil, and filling my tires with air.
My favorite road trip emergency kit essential is the myCharge 6600mAh AdventureJumpStart. With a 400A peak, jump start current and a 200A jump start current, the battery provides power to jump your car or other vehicle’s battery. The AdventureJumpStart includes detachable jumper cables for use to jump-start your own car. And it’s tiny, so it takes up virtually no space. Charge it up and grab it to go before a trip.
We always have a first aid kit on hand in our car, as well as suntan lotion and bug spray. We also travel with a puke kit, because we have a kid who pretty much gets sick when she looks at a car. Bucket. Check. Plastic bags. Check. Paper towels. Check. Baby wipes. Check. Hand Sanitizer. Check.
Fresh Start with a Clean Car
I LOVE starting out with a clean car. Having a clean inside of my car is one of my favorite things. If I could afford a real detailing every few months, I would.
Cleaning the car is an easy task for kids. In fact, my kids are almost always the car cleaners. They’ve gotten pretty good at it, too. We sort and clean into three containers. They grab a box from our garage and pull out all of the unnecessary items and put them away (inevitably there’s always random toys, clothing, etc., floating around the car). Items that stay in the car and need to go back in after it’s clean go in another box, and trash goes right into a grocery bag to get dumped into our trash receptacle. Once all the items are out and sorted, they can wipe down the windows, dust the interior, vacuum the floor and carpets, wipe down the seats and dashboard with a leather treatment, and replace the old air freshener with a new one.
To dust, small disposable dusters (like Swiffer Dusters) or something similar is seriously the best inventions ever. I dust everything with them. They’re so easy to get into the nooks and crannies of your car dashboard, vents, and doors. If you want to be a little more green, get a reusable duster. We have one of these in our house for regular dusting. I love that it’s washable and reusable, but obviously, the simplicity factor isn’t there.
We wipe down and treat the seats and dash with Armor All Original Protectant. You can get wipes for easy use or use it on a microfiber cloth (a different one than you used on the windows). This keeps the dashboard materials and leather seats (if you have leather) protected and looking nice and clean.
And last but not least, I love an air freshener. I have one from Scentsy that clips on the visor because it’s what I like, but anything will do. It’s just nice to have a fresh, clean scent in your car.
Water and Snacks for the Road
Whether we’re headed out for the day or a week, we stock up on water and snacks. In addition to saving money, it’s nice to start out with everyone’s favorites. Each person gets their own small box, and we also pack a main box for community/group snacks. Everyone brings a refillable water bottle, too, to stay hydrated. When we need to refill snacks and drinks on the road, we’ll grab snacks when we stop at a convenience store for gas at one of our gas stops along the way. Convenience stores are just that: convenient! Snacks, drinks, bathrooms, and maybe gas all in one stop on our route. We love the ease of stopping at convenience stores. My go to? Combos. Every time.
Pack the Car for Easy Access
We always try to pack our car for easy access. That means when you load the trunk, start with the items you’ll need last when packing. Suitcases and those items you need the least access to go in first. No need to rummage through those to get at snacks for the car. Need items during the day? Planning to make a quick hotel stop one night? Pack a one-night bag or suitcase for that night with everyone’s single-night needs so you don’t have to unpack and bring in the whole car for a quick one-night stay on the road. Last day before you hit the airport? Leave everything you need in one bag on top.
Leave snacks and your emergency car kit in the back seat or at the top of the trunk where they can be accessed without unloading the whole car.
These 5 simple steps to help you prep for a summer road trip will make your road trip prepping simple. Just add fun.