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Everyone loves a great road trip. You get to leave your worries behind and hit the road. You could be gone for just a day or a few weeks. You might be visiting a familiar and beloved spot or maybe you’re headed somewhere new, by yourself or with friends. There’s no wrong way to do a road trip, but there is a wrong way to prepare for one. Before you head out, you’ll need to consider a few logistics. Jumping into your car without a plan is fine when you’re headed down the road, but when it comes to a long excursion that takes you far from home, you need to think about these five things to make sure you’re safe and prepared.

Your Car Insurance

Car insurance is a must for any time, but especially when you’re headed on a trip. If you’re used to paying for the cheapest insurance and not knowing what that includes, it’s time to take another look at your policy. Collision coverage will ensure you’re protected if you’re in an accident and comprehensive coverage will help pay for repairs due to other damage or replacement if your car is stolen. The cheap insurance might work when you’re only driving to and from work, but when you’re headed on a cross-country road trip, it’s time to take another look.

Before you leave for your trip, make sure you have up-to-date comprehensive car insurance. When you’re in a new location and driving in unfamiliar territory, something might go wrong that you can’t avoid. A deer may run in front of your car, a turn might come out of nowhere, or your car might just break down after being on the road. Having current car insurance with great coverage will ensure you’re ready for anything that might go wrong. Compare policies at iSelect and decide which one will best suit your needs. Collision coverage is always a good idea, especially if you’re taking your new car out on the road. Get your insurance set up before you head out and make sure your car is ready for the trip.

Your Destination

While some people prefer to head out without a plan, others like having a destination in mind. Those who take a trip without an itinerary might find themselves lost, stuck, or just plain bored. You might not realize you’re headed to the middle of nowhere in Kansas until you’ve driven five hours with no cities in sight. Those who make a strict plan, however, might find themselves too dedicated to the itinerary. They struggle to check out anything not on the schedule and this can cause friction between road trippers if one of them enjoys exploring and being spontaneous.

You might find that a combination of the two styles is right for you. You can have a final destination spot that you’re headed towards while also making spontaneous stops along the way. Having somewhat of a plan will also help you keep friends and family back home informed so they know where you are, which is a good way to keep yourself safe during the trip. Decide which option you prefer before you leave so you and your travel buddies have a loose idea of what’s going to happen. If you end up detouring more than expected, your final stop might really be a “site for shore eyes.”

Your Warranty

The vehicle is arguably the most important part of the road trip. Without a reliable car or recreational vehicle, you could end up stranded in the middle of nowhere or on the side of a busy highway. You might find your savings slipping away as you try to have your vehicle fixed by a mechanic you don’t know in a strange town. You and your road trip buddies will quickly become irritated if you’re unable to get anywhere because the car keeps breaking down.

Just like with your car insurance, it’s a good idea to look into a great RV warranty if you’re driving a recreational vehicle. The right warranty will cover repair costs if anything happens during the trip. Depending on the plan you purchase, you could have coverage for any part in your RV that breaks down, including your engine, transmission, air conditioner (very important!), and generator. While insurance will cover you in the event of an accident, your warranty will make sure your RV can be fixed if something breaks down, no matter where you are. Compare warranties and choose the one that best suits your needs.

Your Outfits

Obviously, you’ll need to pack for your great adventure, so take the time to consider what you might need. Packing might be low on your priorities list, especially if you don’t typically put much thought into your outfits, but when you’re on the road, you won’t have the entire wardrobe at your fingertips. You’ll need to decide which items you want to have and which you could live without. This will be influenced by where you’re headed, the weather forecast, and the activities you plan to do.

While you might be tempted to pack only ratty shorts and T-shirts, consider all the possibilities and how easy it is to pack an awesome look. A great pair of travelers pants won’t wrinkle in the car, so you can always have a nice outfit for an impromptu business meeting or night out. If you’re hoping to run into some mountains and do a hike, make sure you have the right shoes and moisture-wicking clothes. Having a suitcase full of options will ensure you’re ready for whatever might happen.

Your Finances

Before you head out, take a look at your financial situation. Road trips can be extremely expensive (gas, hotels, food, souvenirs, excursions, and more), so don’t underestimate the cost of this adventure. You’ll need to assess your financial status and discuss the situation with the people you’re traveling with since they might have very different visions of the trip. Can you afford to purchase every meal or will you need to pack supplies for peanut butter and jelly sandwiches? Will you be able to buy souvenirs or will you have to resist?

Knowing what you can spend before you head out will help you stay responsible and telling your road trip buddies what you can and can’t afford will set expectations before the trip. You don’t want to end up at an expensive restaurant because you didn’t tell your friends that you weren’t planning to eat out. Some people treat road trips like vacations and expect to spend a lot of money. Don’t rack up credit card debt on your road trip because you didn’t thoroughly assess your finances or discuss them with your group. Instead, look closely at what you have and make smart decisions so you don’t have any regrets when you come home.

A great road trip can be unforgettable if you plan correctly. Make sure your vehicle is prepared, the right clothes are packed, and your budget is in order. You can still make spontaneous choices while on the road, but the proper preparation will make sure you have an amazing time. Your trip should be unforgettable because of what you saw and did, not because the car broke down and you couldn’t afford to get it fixed.

Steve Mathews

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