We’re taking a trip to Florida over the Christmas holiday, and it’s going to be one heck of a drive! Since I’m the organized one (read Type A here) in the family, I’m trying to get a jump on making sure the car is all ready to go. My husband keeps saying, “I’ll do it,” but that usually means he’ll do it a few days before we leave. No thank you, ma’am! This girl wants her ducks in a row! What kinds of things should I look into to get ready for this trip? Thanks a million, Bree!
Cindy in Indy (Indianapolis, that is)
Well, Cindy, I like the way you think! Forewarned is forarmed, right? The earlier you start planning, the less stressed you’ll be and the more able to think of little things like earplugs and/or headphones to drown out your kids fighting in the backseat. So, here’s a little checklist:
Map it out. The internet and sites like Mapquest have made traveling by car so much easier, so take advantage of them. Map your trip out and make sure you have some alternative routes in case of traffic, accidents, weather and other unforeseen circumstances. If you have a smart phone, download Google Maps or another program like it that can help you figure out where you are if you’re lost, give you traffic reports, and re-route you, if needed. If you’re not in a big hurry to get where you’re going, maybe make some pit stops at popular tourist sites along the way or visit a friend. Make hotel reservations in advance, so you have a guaranteed place to stay at the end of a long driving day. Last but not least, pack a map. Sometimes technology fails.
Make sure your car maintenance is up to date. Do you need an oil change? A tune-up? Check your fluid levels. How’s the anti-freeze (not that you’ll need it so much in FL)? Are your windshield wipers in good shape? Make a checklist and go through it point by point, or take your car in for a check-up with your favorite mechanic.
You’re going to be riding a long way, so make sure you’re riding safely. Check those tires. How’s the tread? Do the Abe Lincoln test and find out! Are your tires wearing evenly? If not, you might have a problem, like an alignment problem, for instance, and you’ll want to get that fixed. A trip like yours from Indiana to Florida could really put some wear on your tires if your alignment is off. Check your tire pressure—improperly inflated tires wear out faster and give you a higher chance of hydroplaning in wet conditions. Check the inside panel of the driver’s side door or your car’s manual to find the recommended air pressure for your vehicle—over or under are not good. And don’t forget to pack your tire pressure gauge in case you need it on the road!
I’m not finished yet, Cindy, not by a long shot! Check back next week and I’ll fill you in on more road-trip travel tips!