When going on a long trip in your vehicle, it is best to take someone with you to help with driving duties and to help you stay awake. Unfortunately, this is not always possible, mainly due to scheduling conflicts and the length of the trip. In such a case, you have no choice but to drive the whole distance on your own.
Here are some basic tips you can follow while preparing for your solo long-distance trip.
- Tip: Before leaving on your long trip, make sure that your road club membership, such as one with AAA, is up to date. You can even sign up for a low-cost road club membership to take full advantage of any roadside assistance program they offer.
Part 1 of 2: Prepare for your road trip
Before setting out on a long trip, you need to make prepare your car and make proper arrangements for your journey. Be sure to get sufficient food and water for your journey and make sure to get plenty of rest beforehand.
Step 1: Have your vehicle checked out. Get a certified mechanic to take a look at your car and certify that it is in good working condition before departing on your trip.
Some items to have the mechanic check out include:
- Battery: Ensure that your battery is charged fully.
- Brakes: Make sure that your brakes function properly.
- Fluids: Check that the fluid levels are at the proper level. Fluids to check include oil, transmission fluid, and coolants.
- Lights and signals: Ensure that all lights and signals work properly. This includes the high and low beams on your car, especially if you plan on driving at night.
- Tires: Make sure the tires are in good shape and properly inflated. Ensure that the tire pressure meets manufacturer standards.
Get a tire pressure gauge and keep it in your car so that you can check the tire pressure at regular intervals.
- Tip: Start your trip with a full tank of gas. This should keep you from having to stop too soon into your journey.
Step 2: Pack your car beforehand. You should also pack your car with the things you expect to need.
Pack such items as clothing and personal items in a suitcase or bag and place them in the trunk. In addition, you should purchase emergency roadside kits and first aid kits and keep them in the trunk.
Some other good items to have with you are a flashlight, blanket, and a phone equipped with a battery pack or car charger.
Also consider packing a cooler with some drinks and food items to eat along the way.
- Tip: Toilet paper is another good thing to have on a long trip. You may never know when you will need it.
Step 3: Get plenty of rest. Get plenty of rest the night before your big trip alone so that you are not sleepy or tired while driving.
Try to eat something before you leave so that you will stay awake while you drive.
- Tip: While caffeinated drinks are a great way to keep your energy levels up, consider controlling your consumption of caffeinated drinks because these types of drinks wear off over time and can make you feel drained and tired.
Once you are on the road, staying awake and alert can sometimes present a challenge. By following these tips and tricks, you can ensure that you have no problems on your drive.
Step 4: Get a GPS for your car. If possible, purchase a GPS unit for your vehicle.
A GPS unit can help you stay on the correct route to your destination.
- Tip: Even with a GPS unit installed in your vehicle, you should still carry a paper map in case the GPS stops working.
Step 5: Pack a selection of your favorite music. Take a selection of music you like to listen to on CDs or an MP3 player.
Chances are that any radio stations you find on your trip may not play the music you like, or the stations may not remain in range for very long.
Part 2 of 2: Tips for the drive
Step 1: Fill up your gas tank regularly. On long trips in unfamiliar areas, it is not possible to know how often you can expect gas stations.
Fill up your gas tank when it gets to a quarter tank. If possible, look up your map or check the GPS to decide where you can fill up along the way.
Step 2: Factor in breaks. Pull over occasionally to take a break and stretch your legs.
When pulling over, either stop at a rest area, gas station, or other off-road location. If you must pull off on the side of the road, get as far over to the right as you safely can and watch out for oncoming traffic if you must exit your vehicle.
If needed, stop and take a short nap on your drive, especially if you feel tired. Remember to stop only in a safe location and keep your doors locked.
Step 3: Stop for the night. You should also consider stopping for the night if you get sleepy and if you cannot continue driving without a break.
If you anticipate stopping at a hotel, make sure that you either know where one is located or start looking for one while it is still light outside. Looking for a hotel in the dark can add unnecessary stress to your trip.
Driving alone on a long trip does not have to be difficult. With proper preparation, you should find yourself at your destination safely in no time.
Make sure that you get one of the expert mechanics at YourMechanic to perform a 75-point safety inspection on your vehicle to ensure it is in good shape before you set out on your long-distance trip.
This article originally appeared on YourMechanic.com as How to Drive Long Distances Alone and was authored by Cheryl Knight.