A road trip can genuinely change your life, the experiences you have and memories you make staying with you for years afterwards. However, you better make sure you’re properly prepared: one does not simply embark on a road trip (well, you can skip planning, but you’re likely to run into problems far sooner than if you set out properly prepared). Below are five vital things to bear in mind if you’re planning to go on a road trip in the near future: it’s never a good idea to get caught with your pants down, least of all while on the road.

Maps

While having a satnav, GPS or Google Maps on your cell phone may seem reliable navigation options, you should always make sure you bring physical, paper-based maps with you as well. It’s definitely a good idea to keep a road atlas in the car, and printouts of your route if you planned it using an online map service can prove pretty useful.

Food

Though it may seem like the most convenient option, purchasing your food from rest stops, gas stations and fast food joints at the side of the road is rarely a wise idea in the long run. Making sure you have a decent stock of non-perishable food with you in the car is always a good bet. Additionally, be sure to stick to a regular meal schedule in order to avoid making poor food-related decisions: if you end up absolutely starving because you missed a meal, that greasy burger meal you might not give a second glance usually may just seduce you. Don’t forget about supermarkets and any local eateries in the towns you might pass on your way: the food offered in these is often cheaper and healthier than the stuff you’ll find being sold at the side of the road.

Gas

While crude oil prices may have dropped, gasoline can still end up being pretty expensive. The cost of gas is an important thing to consider, especially as it’s effectively the lifeblood of your entire road trip. Try to buy gasoline from less expensive outlets (you can often find it cheaper in towns and cities than at roadside pumps). Be sure to keep some spare fuel in your trunk for emergencies and conserve gas when possible. The latter can be achieved by limiting the use of the AC, accelerating and decelerating slowly, avoiding cruise control and keeping tires well inflated (bring a tire gauge with you to this end). You should also avoid speeding – as well as saving fuel, this reduces the chance of getting an untimely ticket, which could ruin your road trip or even end it prematurely.

Vehicle care

Whether you’re travelling in a car, a bus or a van, it’s incredibly important to make sure you’re prepared for the worst. Make sure you’re a member of a roadside recovery service, bring a spare tire (and know how to change it) and be sure to keep an eye on your vehicle’s oil and radiator fluid. You should also know what to do if you break down, such as appropriately signalling your distress and making sure everybody stays safe while you wait for help.


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