5 things you should check before heading out on a road trip

Updated Jan 25, 2021 | Same topic: Let's Drive Smart!

These are essential things to remember before you venture out.

Like a spring that’s wound up to its absolute limit, you’re probably raring to let loose on the nearest available stretch of open road once you’ve ventured outside, if you haven’t done so yet.

Close to a year since quarantine restrictions began as a result of COVID-19, it’s still hard to say when we can all go back to our normal, car-loving lives.

Man driving

We know you can't wait to get behind the wheel for a long drive

But assuming that an opportunity comes up to finally savor the freedom of wide open spaces again, there’s always wisdom in making sure that your vehicle is up to the task. After all, a road trip means time and a considerable distance away from the safety of home, and you’ll only have your machine to count on for both transportation, comfort, and protection.

Let’s take a look at five things you’ll need to keep in mind before heading out.

1. Check your car

The acronym BLOWBAGET, cliché as it might sound, is still relevant in a time where we’re seeing increasingly smart and sophisticated cars. No matter how fancy a car is, it still uses the same basic components, and it’s always worth your while to ensure that these are working properly or at the right levels prior to your trip.

Guy fixing car

Make sure everything on your car is working properly

To refresh your memory, this comprises your Battery, Lights, Oil, Water (or coolant), Brakes, Air, Gas (or fuel in general), Engine, and Tires. Neglecting any one of these areas is just asking for trouble.  

2. Bring the proper tools 

A pre-emptive check can only do so much, and will not account for external hazards that you might encounter along the way. For instance, a loose nail on the road can easily puncture your tire. Or a fellow motorist might be stranded on the side of the road in need of assistance.

Tools

It doesn't have to be this extensive, but you get the picture

As the scouting adage goes, “be prepared”, which is why it’s important to have the necessary tools on board. At the very least, the standard kit comprising of a tire wrench, hydraulic jack, tire inflator, and early warning device should be the default equipment loadout on your car. If you’re so inclined (and space permitting), you can also bring along a tow rope, jumper cables, and a fire extinguisher.

3. Have a first-aid kit

A car isn’t the only thing that’s vulnerable to danger on extended trips. Equally important is the well-being of the driver and passengers, so consider the first-aid kit as the human equivalent of your car’s tool set. There are pre-made kits available in supermarkets or drugstores, and you can also make your own personalized kit according to your needs.

First-aid kit

It's important to look after yourself as well

From the basic bandage, wipes, and antiseptic, other medications such as anti-dizziness and digestive tablets can be added. You can also include specialized items such as prescription medication for pre-existing conditions.

>>> Related: 8 must-have items for your car emergency kit

4. Load up on smartphone apps

We live in an age of information and connectivity, so smartphone apps have become something of a given when we embark on our journeys. Navigational apps such as Google Maps and Waze are indispensable in helping us find the most efficient route to our destinations, or when we need to search for the nearest available stopover.

Smartphone in car

The right apps will make even the most tedious journeys more bearable

Another must-have app is Spotify, which allows you to devise your own playlist beforehand. Streaming music right through your car’s audio system can help make long drives more bearable, as well as keep you alert. Just take care not to fiddle with your phone while driving, in accordance with the Anti-Distracted Driving Law.

5. File away important numbers

Sometimes, even our best efforts won’t be enough to fend off unexpected events, and we’ll need to ask for help along the way. Having important contact numbers saved on your phone can spell the difference between getting prompt aid and having to wait it out in the middle of nowhere.

Among the contact information you need to bring along are phone numbers for your insurance company and hotline numbers for roadside or highway assistance. You’ll also want to keep numbers for emergency medical response handy, just in case.

More driving tips are in store for you at Philkotse.com.

Joseph Paolo Estabillo

Joseph Paolo Estabillo

Author

Joseph has been a member of various car clubs since he got his driver's license in 2004 – old enough to remember riding in taxicabs with analog meters, but his fascination with cars goes way back. After nearly two decades of working in broadcast media, he shifted gears by coming on board as Philkotse’s first Filipino member and staff writer in 2017.

Apart from his role in Philkotse as Content Team Lead, Joseph has written episodes for Drive, which has been airing on CNN Philippines for five seasons running. He has also delivered content for various car dealerships based in the U.S., spanning multiple brands such as Alfa Romeo, Maserati, Jeep, Dodge, among others.

Keeping his hopes high and his revs low, he dreams about owning a Kei car when he retires. Hates slow parkers.

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