Preparing for a Road Trip | A Car Checklist for Safe Travelling

Preparing for a Road Trip

Travelling is one of the most enjoyable things to do, but in the same breath, it can be frustrating. This is why preparing for a road trip can be a real game changer between a stunning vacation and one you’d rather forget sooner than later.

With this in mind, we’ve come up with all the tips and tricks you need. Most of these recommendations are for preparing your car for a road trip and how you can save cash before you even hit the road.

So, before you embark on an epic Ontario weekend getaway, use this car checklist to help you prep. 

road trip car checklist

A Basic Road Trip Checklist for Cars

Getting a car ready for a road trip isn’t easy, especially with everything you need to remember. As such, here’s our quick road trip vehicle checklist to ensure you don’t miss a thing.

  1. Check your fluids — These include your engine oil, power steering fluid, coolant (antifreeze), and transmission fluid if it’s an automatic.
  2. Have a look at your tires — Make sure your tires are at the correct pressure as per your user manual, and look at the conditions of your tires. See if there are any scrapes, cuts, bulges, punctures, or cracks on your tire tread.
  3. Inspect your battery’s health — Most cars have a Voltmeter attached to the battery box, with a healthy battery reading between 12.4 and 12.7 volts. 
  4. Check your wiper and washer fluid — If your wipers leave streaks or make squeaky noises, that’s usually a telltale sign they need replacing. It’s also important to check if you need more washer fluid.
  5. See that all your lights are working — You can easily get a fine for broken lights, which can make your road trip fairly expensive.
  6. Check your car’s mileage and service history — If your car needs a general checkup, take it to your trusted mechanic before hitting the road.
how to prepare for a road trip

General Road Trip Preparation Tips

Before diving into how to prep for a road trip based on the season, we have a few more helpful hints for you to consider.

1. Road Trip Prep Includes Dressing Comfortably

Planning your road trip outfits can make all the difference when driving. For starters, you want to ensure you’re as comfortable as possible. Packing light can also reduce the weight of the car, thus resulting in lower gas costs.

2. Apps Can Help You Prepare for a Road Trip

Apps can really help you prepare and save money when travelling. We love using Gas Buddy to plan our trips, as the app can help you estimate the overall cost of your road trip and plan your stops according to the cheapest gas stations.

3. Travel Through Cities on the Weekends

If you’re planning a road trip to major cities like Toronto or Montreal, try and travel during the weekends. Weekday traffic in major cities in Canada is an animal few want to encounter, so driving on weekends can make all the difference.

4. Find the Best Gas Stations Along Your Trip

We’ve already mentioned how Gas Buddy can help you save gas on a road trip, but we can’t stress enough how helpful mapping your stops can be. Not every gas station has the same prices, so identifying the cheapest stops is a small but effective way to keep some extra cash in your wallet.

preparing your car for a road trip

How to Prepare for a Road Trip | Season by Season

If you’re looking to save during your next road trip — who isn’t, after all — these season-specific tips will help.

Tips on How to Prepare Your Car for a Road Trip in Winter

Here are our top tips for road-tripping in winter:

  • Pack an emergency kit for if you get stuck.
  • Plot your route to ensure there are no road closures due to weather.
  • Pack sand and a shovel to help if your car is stuck. You can say au revoir to towing fees.
  • Look to invest in snow tires for winter travel. They may be pricey initially, but they’ll save you money in the long run as they have better grip and are more fuel-efficient in snowy conditions.
  • Ensure your wipers (for visibility during snow storms) and car heater (to melt ice on windscreens) are working properly. Replace your windshield wipers if needed.
  • Speaking of wipers, it’s important to ensure that your windshield washer fluid is topped up. There’s nothing worse than when another car passes by and showers your car with dirty, slushy snow, only to find out that you’ve run out of washer fluid. To avoid this situation, it’s always a good idea to keep an extra jug of washer fluid in the trunk, especially during the winter season when we tend to use it more frequently.
road trip checklist for car

Tips on How to Prepare Your Car for a Road Trip in Spring 

Keep these hints in mind when travelling in spring:

  • Plan your route according to the distance and expected traffic, as high congestion can waste a lot of fuel.
  • Be doubly sure your wipers and washer fluid work. Spring brings wet and rainy weather, so the wiper can help reduce drag from excess water on the windscreen, thus saving on gas.
  • As snow and ice are often still on the roads in spring, it’s best to check that your brakes are in good nick.
road trip preparation

Tips on How to Prepare Your Car for a Road Trip in Summer

Consider this car checklist before a road trip in summer:

  • Book accommodation as far in advance to get the best deals possible. Also, opt for lodging near the city center to avoid driving in the city.
  • Ensure your car’s coolant is good. A lack of coolants can strain the car, especially with the A/C on, and can result in higher gas fees.
  • Plan to drive in the early hours of the morning to avoid the midday heat. This also means less of a need for the A/C and, in turn, morning savings on gas.
preparing car for road trip

Tips on How to Prepare Your Car for a Road Trip in Autumn/Fall

Being one of the best times to explore Canada, autumn brings its own challenges. Consider these tips before hitting the road:

  • Much like with winter, having the best visibility is essential. So ensure your heaters, wipers, and headlights are all in good working order.
  • If you plan on travelling in late autumn, consider switching to your snow tires as the snow starts to kick in.
  • Map your route and keep track of the weather conditions. Travelling in poor weather conditions can affect your car’s performance and the trip’s overall cost. 
planning a road trip

Preparing Your Car for a Road Trip Wrapped Up

Who knew road trip prepping could be so easy? It may seem like a lot at first, but the truth is if you keep up with the general maintenance of your vehicle, then getting ready for a trip can be plain sailing.

Next Read: If you want to road trip but want to avoid gas stations altogether, look at our recommended road trips with an electric vehicle

prepare for road trip

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