<p>Road trips are one of life's great joys or great hassles, depending on how much you enjoy driving. There are family road trips and business road trips. There are trips we take for vacations with friends or out of obligation to work or family. In groups, a road trip is an act of teamwork. But when you're driving solo, you need to be prepared to rely only on yourself. </p>
Right now, road trips are particularly perilous, with the dangers of travel, but travel is sometimes necessary despite the risks. Preparation is key to a successful mission. Between icy weather conditions and the occasional very bold deer, it’s important to be prepared for solo road tripping, even in pastorally beautiful places. Today, we’re here to share a few smart tips for relying on yourself during necessary road travel.
Pre-Trip Maintenance Check
Always start with a pre-trip maintenance check. Never leave home without making sure that your vehicle is in good enough condition to handle a long trip. You want to ensure the tires, engine, and interior are well-maintained before embarking. You don’t have to visit a mechanic, but it helps.
Kick the Tires & Check the Treads
Start by walking around your vehicle and inspecting the tires. Kick each tire to confirm that it’s well-inflated and doesn’t feel squishy. Then grab a penny and check the tire treads. Stick the penny upsidedown in the treads. If the treads are still good, some of Lincoln’s head should be obscured.
Inspect the Oil Dipstick
You may not be in need of an oil change, but it’s a good idea to check your oil levels. Open your hood and find the oil dip-stick. Pull it out and look closely. If the oil line is between the two markers near the bottom, your vehicle is in good shape.
Listen to the Engine
Turn on your vehicle and perhaps roll it around the block. Listen to how the engine sounds and feels. If it sputters or groans, have it inspected before embarking on your trip. If everything seems fine, then you’re good to go.
Consider an All-Points Inspection
If your trip will be long or challenging, consider bringing your vehicle in for an all-points inspection just in case. This ensures that you’ll have no unexpected maintenance problems on the road.
Handy Road Trip Packing List
Road trip supplies is always important, but it’s critical when you’re riding solo. You’ll need all your road trip supplies available without counting on others to remember essentials. The following packing list is a great place to start for having everything you need to stay comfortable and healthy on the road. No matter how many hours you’re behind the wheel.
- Quick Access
- Water Bottle
- GPS Navigation
- Charging Cables
- Self-Care and Hygiene
- Baby Wipes
- Witch Hazel Toner
- Paper Towels
- Antihistamines & Aspirin
- Car Care
- Windshield Scraper
- Mini Vacuum
Passenger-Seat Caddy: Everything Within Reach
Okay, now that you’ve got all your road trip supplies, where will you put it? How will you make sure that you, while driving, can reach anything you might need on the road? Without a passenger, you can’t count on them to hand you things like sunglasses or snacks on the road. The answer is surprisingly simple: A caddy in the passenger’s seat.
There are tons of car-caddy designs ranging from rectangular compartments that strap in with the seatbelt to mobile desk setups for professionals who work on the road. Even a large backpack buckled in can make a handy caddy for keeping all your road trip essentials within reach. We highly suggest that you look into caddy types and design your own solo-road-tripper setup in the passenger’s seat so that everything you want to reach while driving can be grabbed safely with one hand always on the wheel.
Any time you are taking a road trip alone, emergency supplies is an important addition to your packing list. Just in case something happens on the road and you find yourself with mechanical troubles or even rolled into a side-ditch, you want to be prepared to survive and call for help. This is especially important where autumn and winter road conditions can be icy and dangerous.
The following packing list should be packed into a duffel or box and kept in your back seat. Always keep most of your emergency gear in the passenger cabin so you don’t have to leave the vehicle to reach it in the event of an emergency. Make sure you have, at minimum, some water, food, blankets, and the ability to charge your phone in a pinch.
- Tire Chains
- Reflector Triangles & Road Flares
- Mini Snow Shovel
- De-Icing Agent
- 5-Gallon Water Jug
- Handful of Energy Bars
- Toolkit & Work Gloves
- Backup Battery and Phone Charger
Safe Driving Tips
Don’t Slip on Frozen Roads
Start with ice safety. Driving on icy and snowy roads is very different from driving on dry roads or in warm weather. Ice requires a new understanding of how to brake and how to get back under control if your vehicle slips.
Go slow, take your time. If you see leaves or “wet” pavement, slow down and treat it like it’s slippery ice. It probably is. If you see snow or frost, go slow. Don’t accelerate or turn too fast. Give yourself plenty of time to stop, and tap the breaks instead of slamming them.
Common Icy Road Hazards:
- Icy Autumn Leaves
- Frozen Wet Pavement
- Snowy Roads
Correct the Fishtail Slide
If you do start sliding and your vehicle is out of control, you can get back in control before disaster most of the time. Tap the breaks and steer very gently toward the center of the road or your intended lane. Don’t over-correct or the tires will slip more. If you’re worried about slipping, simply take your foot off the gas and let traction return as you slow down.
Watch Out for Deer
Deer and ice, unfortunately, are hazards that often happen together. The deer mating season is October through January and they tend to be a little braver during this time. Especially at night, as deer are nocturnal. If you see a deer in the road, start slowing down as early as possible. They will eventually get out of the way, but don’t count on the deer clearing out in time. Deer are not that smart we have a lot of them.
Watch out for deer most of all near wooded areas and cornfields, even inside of city limits.
Use Your Defroster Settings
Don’t be afraid to use your windshield defroster. When it’s below freezing outside, your windshields (front and back) will frost over. Especially if there’s any moisture in the air. Use your defrosters liberally. Keep your windshield clear and stay safe.
Turn In When You Get Tired
Last but not least, driving in icy conditions can be exhausting. The effort of carefully controlling the car can wear out your muscles as well as your brain. If you start to feel tired, grab a hotel room and turn in for the night. Solo road tripping is all about knowing your limits. Push yourself to new horizons, but only as far as you can safely go in one day.
People sometimes have to rely solely on themselves. If you are called away from the family for a solo road trip, it’s vital to have your entire plan and back-up plans in line before you lift that parking break. Fortune favors the well-prepared.