7 Questions to Ask Yourself Before a RoadTrip
Unless you don’t mind getting stranded in the middle of no where...
Nothing like the freedom of the open road, right? Wide eyed and bushy tailed I embarked on a road trip across the U.S with little knowledge of the functionality of my car or the terrain we were both about to endure. These are the questions I hadn’t considered before hand that I should have:
1) WHAT DRIVE SYSTEM IS MY VEHICLE?
This might be basic knowledge to a lot of folks but not only is my vehicle drive train something I hadn’t considered, it was also something no one had ever advised me of when I mentioned I’d be driving my little ford fiesta across the country. My compact front wheel drive(FWD) sedan is great in SoCal where I reside but not so smooth while driving uphill during a hail storm on the way to Denver, Colorado. That being said, my car did manage to get us there and back safely, thus, an AWD or 4WD drive vehicle is not necessary just highly recommended.
Furthermore, after asking a well informed friend that lives in a snowy area on the subject; I have been advised to avoid RWD (Rear Wheel Drive) vehicles all together if possible, especially the variety over 25 years old as they are most likely to fishtail. Additionally, she recommends you check your tires before your departure to make sure they read M+S (Mud+Snow). If they do, great! You can feel much better about driving a FWD vehicle that is equipped with these. If they don’t and the forecast reads snow, then tire chains are recommended. Regardless of which drive your vehicle is sporting, it is still important that you drive with caution under such circumstances considering your brakes won’t work as well as they do on dry pavement.
2) HOW WILL WE KEEP OURSELVES ENTERTAINED?
Here comes the fun part! What if your road tripping buddy loves heavy metal and you prefer RnB? What if they listen exclusively to Sci-Fi audiobooks while you are a self development junkie? One person will either succeed at selling the other on their preferences otherwise… here comes the dreaded word: compromise. You can agree to play punch buggy for the remainder of the trip or you can find something to listen to that you both kinda-sorta-like. Personally, I‘ve had this issue in the past and if my preferences are drastically different from my companions I’ve decided I’m better off rolling solo than polluting my mind with 50 hours worth of fluff content so make sure you choose your PIC (partner in crime) wisely. Make a point of discussing this subject with your crew before you drive off into the sunset together if you are serious about the happily ever after.
3) DID I RESEARCH WEATHER & SAFETY WARNINGS?
If you are part of this up and coming “don’t watch the news” trend that I shamelessly partake in, then you might not be aware of some of the national disasters going on. It sounds so simple but you would not believe how often either I or one of my travel buddies have been guilty of this and packed for the wrong season. Assuming you pack the wrong set of clothes, buying season appropriate clothing is an easy although inconvenient fix. However, one item that is not so easy to buy on the fly when you are ill prepared are tire chains. Hence, if you are driving, it is even more important to check the forecast because if snow is expected and you’re not sporting the right tires you might just find yourself rolling in the deep- and I’m not talking about the Adele song.
4) SHOULD I POST A RIDESHARE AD ON CRAIGSLIST?
If you aren’t aware of what rideshare on craigslist.com is, it is a service posted by individuals that can be found under the community section of the site. Generally, the ads on there consist of pedestrians who are planning an upcoming long commute or road trip from your town to a city a few hours away or maybe even a few states over that have extra space in their vehicle and are willing to take on extra passengers in exchange for gas money.
I have looked into this as an option and have responded to rideshare ads going from LA to Las Vegas although I’ve never posted an ad myself for one. In the end, I didn’t take up any of the offers for the ads I responded to either because the timing was inconvenient, or for whatever reason I got a sketchy vibe off the person I spoke to, or because I was able to find a more legit equally cheap transportation method. However, I have friends that have had great success with the rideshare section both in terms of posting ads and responding to them so its worth considering as an option. If you are concerned about your personal safety, I’d recommend informing a trusted friend of your plans and keeping the “share location” function turned on and visible to them until you arrive at your destination safely. Use your best judgement when corresponding with anyone off Craigslist and verify them on social media as an additional safety precaution.
5) SHOULD WE TAKE THE FAST ROUTE OR THE SCENIC ROUTE?
Although I am a fan of the saying “the journey is the destination” I almost always opt for the faster route. The joy of the journey for me personally comes more so from the companionship and camaraderie rather than the views. However, I understand not everyone feels this way. If the idea of the scenic route gets your wheels turning then check out www.greatamericanroadtrip.com for some route recommendations. For the fastest route, and to avoid toll fees and accidents, I use waze app as my GPS.
6) WHAT IF I HAVE CAR ISSUES?
Luckily, I haven’t had any unexpected car issues come up during any of my road trips. To prevent sticky situations, I routinely pulled over for gas whenever my tank was below half full to avoid finding myself running on empty on a stretch of highway 100 miles out from the nearest gas station. I’d also keep a spare key in a hidden compartment in my car or in my purse at all times. Furthermore, if you want to be extra cautious, I recommend you keep a secure fully stocked portable gas tank in your vehicle for the duration of your trip. If your car is not the most reliable to begin with, an even better- though slightly costlier bet- would be to rent a car from a major rental company with branches in all the spots you plan to hit up; that way you can always trade in your rental for another vehicle if any issues arise and you can drop off the rental at a different location than the one you picked it up from.
Additional steps you can take for a smoother trip include getting your fluids, tire pressure, and oil levels checked a day or two before take off. Make sure all your lights are functional, and if you suspect you will be driving through fog I can not recommend headlight restoration enough. After all, “Driving at night is about communicating with lights” Lukhman Pambra.
*Pro tip: If you decide to go the rental car route make sure you pay for it using a credit card that offers consumer protection on your rental thus saving you from having to pay extra for the additional insurance policy the firm will inevitably try to sell you. If you opt for using your own car, make sure your AAA membership is active prior to your departure. Right before the start of your road trip might be a good time to upgrade to that free 100 mile tow.
7) WHAT IF I GET SICK OR INJURED?
During my time in Austin,Texas, I bumped into some kind of plant and I broke out in welts on the area affected. Although, I chose to just take some allergy medicine and not go to urgent care, this incident forced me to ponder whether my insurance would be valid out of state.
The good news is that as long as you have health insurance it will cover you in life-threatening emergency situations in all states (except for Hawaii). The bad news is that insurance companies differ on what constitutes an emergency. It is always better to understand exactly what your insurance coverage will pay for before traveling than to run the risk of a denied claim after an emergency occurs.
To avoid finding yourself in such a predicament, take the necessary precautions by getting clearance from your physician before your departure. This means all your shots are up to date, and you are packing a first aid kit, antibacterial, and an immune system booster. After all, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
Anything I’m missing? Share your insight in the comments below I may adjust the post accordingly.