Memorial Day is the official kick of the summer driving season. Whether you are taking a long road trip to visit family and friends or just heading out for a quick trip to the beach or mountains, you will want to make sure your car is in tip-top shape and stocked with essentials.
Personally, I come from a car vacation family. Our family car was pretty neat and tidy and in great running condition. My dad was diligent about taking the car to our family mechanic on a regular basis, but ALWAYS before we headed off on any car vacation. As I remember it, our family vacations (seven of us in a station wagon) were generally trouble-free and loads of fun. That wasn’t accidental, it took planning.
Here’s a short checklist to get you started:
1. Take your car to a trusted mechanic. Most have a multi-point checklist, but if not, ensure they perform at least the following services:
• Check the battery and plugs.
• Check the belts and coolant levels.
• Ensure the tires have plenty of tread and the appropriate tire pressure.
• Check the air filter to ensure maximum efficiency.
• Change the oil.
• Check wiper blades.
2. Clean your car.
• Get rid of what you don’t need. Summer road trips are much more enjoyable if you aren’t dealing with old food wrappers, outdated receipts, and hats and scarves from the winter season.
• Vacuum both the seats and floors thoroughly.
• Protect the interior with a good leather or vinyl protector
• Wash and wax your car. Be sure to check for and repair any scratches that may later result in rust or corrosion.
3. Make sure your car is stocked with essentials:
• Vehicle manual in case of breakdown.
• Jumper cables, tire pressure gauge, flares, warning triangle, and security vest.
• Extra windshield washer fluid, coolant, and a fire extinguisher.
• Small tool kit.
• First aid kit.
• Flashlight (be sure to check batteries).
• Cell phone charger.
• Pencil and notebook for games or just taking notes along the way.
• Snacks. Make sure the snacks won’t melt if the car gets warm.
• Water. Have enough water for however long you will be in the car on any particular day. Due to potential health risks, you don’t want to store disposable water bottles in your car for extended periods of time.
If you take care of your car and do some careful planning, your summer road trip will be safe and full of fond memories! Go enjoy some summer fun!
National Association of Professional Organizers, Seattle Chapter President
Certified Premium Subscriber, Institute for Challenging Disorganization