Even if you’ve fully embraced Canadian winters, you’ll likely agree that it’s easier to go for long drives during the warmer months. Now is the perfect time to start planning your summer road trip. While it might seem like all you have to do is jump in the car with a full tank of gas, the following essentials are an important part of ensuring an enjoyable and memorable trip.
Road trip checklist
When you’re well prepared, a long car ride can be the best kind of adventure. Of course, having a reliable vehicle is crucial, but a few other things can make or break your plans.
They make driving safer, especially around sunrise and sunset, and make it more comfortable to take in the view.
Automotive glass blocks some ultraviolet rays, but not all of them, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation. Wear sunscreen or install UV-blocking window film to protect your skin.
Finger foods like trail mix, beef jerky, grapes, and dried fruit will fend off hunger between pit stops. Stay away from crumbly or sticky snacks to minimize cleanup.
Water is the best way to hydrate on any drive. Soda and juice should be consumed sparingly. Coffee is alright for a quick boost of energy, but you should really stop and rest or switch drivers if you’re tired.
On-the-road entertainment goes beyond tuning in to your favourite local radio station. Road trip games and sing-along music are great for families, and audiobooks and movies are good solo activities. Remember to bring cables to keep smartphones and tablets charged.
Depending on your route, satellite navigation might be insufficient. Bound atlases and paper regional maps are immune to cell-signal dropouts and dead batteries.
7. Pre-trip check
8. Roadside supplies
Part of being well prepared is anticipating what could go wrong. Packing a multi-tool, a headlamp, spare tire tools, and jumper cables is a good start. Bonus points for grabbing a tire plug kit and this Evercraft 12 V compact tire inflator to fix small tire punctures. See other recommendations in our previous article.
It’s always good to have cash on hand, as some places don’t accept cards. Wet wipes and disinfectant wipes are a great idea for marginal roadside stops, and it never hurts to pack a first-aid kit, just in case.
Finally, a word on long drives. Don’t tell yourself you have to arrive at your destination at a specific time—enjoy the journey. Driving drowsy is just as dangerous as driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Plan for no more than 10 hours of driving per day. Stay well hydrated, and take breaks every few hours to stretch your legs and enjoy the view.
Travel, whether it’s a weekend out of town or a summer road trip, is beneficial in several ways. Venturing beyond your home turf helps you relax and broaden your horizons, mentally as well as geographically. Writer Paul Theroux perhaps said it best: “You go away . . . and return a different person; you never come all the way back.” Of course, Theroux was speaking metaphorically. If you forget something on this road trip checklist, coming all the way back may literally be more of an adventure than you’d planned.
Don’t forget to come back for our next article, where we’ll discuss a few of our favourite long-life fluid maintenance myths.
By Benjamin Jerew