With Labor Day weekend approaching, many will load up their vehicles and head out on road trips across the country. Travelers want to take advantage of summer’s last dance before heading back to the office or school. However, the last summer road trip can be a nightmare if you don’t pack accordingly. Here are a few items you should always bring with you in the car on a road trip to avoid being stranded in the middle of nowhere or riding through a deadly thunderstorm.
A Cell phone Charger: The days of stopping at pay phones or hiking to the gas station 20 miles up the road are largely behind us thanks to cell phones. However, your cell phone won’t be much use to you when its battery dies and you find yourself lost on a lonely road. By purchasing a cell phone charger for your car, you can rest easy that should trouble arise, your phone is charged and ready to make a call for help.
Paper Maps: And even if your cellphone has a map you are using to navigate or your GPS tells you where to go, it is always a good idea to have a physical map with you in the car. This might sound old fashioned, but technology does fail on occasion, leaving travelers lost and without direction. It is also always best to check with a paper map sometimes for better, more practical routes as GPS systems can lead you down roads you would rather not travel on.
A Pack of Water Bottles: A pack of water bottles can come in handy in a variety of ways on a road trip, namely when a passenger overheats or you find yourself stranded for several hours. You need something to survive off of in the event something goes wrong. Water can be a simple solution. Also with many places breaking heat records this summer, it is important to carry with you a pack of water to keep hydrated.
A Roadside Assistance Membership: While some may tell you roadside assistance plans aren’t worth the cost, they can mean the difference between a costly tow in the middle of Missouri and a free one. AAA is one program that offers roadside assistance for the cardholder’s vehicle and any vehicle they are a passenger in for 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. These memberships like AAA offer discounts on hotels and restaurants in addition to roadside assistance.
An emergency kit: You might already have one of these stowed in the back of your trunk. If you don’t, be sure to assemble an emergency kit for your road trip. Most kits include blankets, a flashlight, flares, tire changing equipment, jumper cables and first aid gear such as bandages and pain relievers. Even if you take your vehicle in for a tune up before your trip across the country, you can still meet problems on the road. My mom follows this rule while traveling: If you don’t pack it, you will need it. If you pack it, you won’t need it. While this might not always be the case when your battery dies and you need those jumper cables, being prepared for those hiccups that can easily occur on a road trip could save you hours when a migraine headache strikes in the desert or a flat tire meets you on the highway.
A Weather App: You can plan on a flat tire or a dead battery, but you can’t plan the weather during a road trip. Conditions can be unpredictable from one minute to the next. You will want to know if a hurricane is heading your way or if that tornado filled forecast came to fruition. It’s a good idea to download some sort of weather app that will show you where the storms are in case you need to find alternative routes. The Weather Channel also has a useful tool you can check before you leave your hotel in the morning. It gives you the forecast right along the Interstates you might be traveling.
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