What You Should Know and Do Before Your Next Summer Road Trip
When summer starts to sizzle, the unprepared will fizzle!
Ahh, summertime is here. And you know what that means…
Summer road trip with the fresh breeze on your face. Picturesque red sunset. Piña colada and hot Señorita. Heads sticking out of the sand. Waves splashing. Cars crashing with blood gushing… oh sorry, you didn’t think it’s gonna be all sunshine and rainbows, did you?
I hate to break it to you but summer has the highest number of car accidents nationwide.
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), summer road trips mean more traffic deaths. Their analysis of fatal crashes found that summer and early fall are the most dangerous times of the year.
See the picture?
Summer road trips are as enjoyable as they are unpredictable. Out on the hot road, you’re exposed to many dangers ⸺ heat waves, road construction, mechanical failure, wild and inexperienced teen drivers, not-so-smart humans… I mean the list goes on.
And if you’re not careful, you could be a part of the unfortunate statistics.
That’s why having the right knowledge is imperative before your summer road trip. Accompanied by preparation and a car emergency kit, summer paradise is in the bag.
Now, you might be asking, “How do you go about that?”
Well, read on, my sunshine friend. Read on.
Preparation is the key to summer road trip safety
Before your next summer road trip, know this:
You don’t rise to the occasion… you rise to your level of preparation.
Before heading out for your summer road trip, prepare yourself mentally, physically, and gear-wise. Hit the gym (unleash that chiseled Greek body of yours). Go for a run (when wheels fail, legs better not be frail). Eat healthily (outlast the survival ordeal).
And take it easy on the weed and whiskey ⸺ safety over ecstasy.
Other than that, do the following beforehand.
Stay up-to-date with the news and weather
Put that billion-dollar satellite you’ve been paying with your taxes to good use. Because even in summertime, the weather can go from sunny to rainy in a jiffy.
Hence, know if a downpour is imminent. Know the probability of a heat wave. Know the traffic condition. Know any ongoing mayhem in the state you’re going. In essence, know what you should know before you become the helpless Joe.
Look ahead and plan your itinerary
Spontaneous summer road trips may be fun but not knowing what lies ahead is a recipe for disaster. Be wise. Map out the best way to get from point A to B and plan with contingencies.
Any alternative routes in case of traffic congestion or roadblock? Nearest refuge or camping grounds to spend the night if needed? Auto shop locations?
Prepare your car
During your summer road trip, your car will be your home away from home. Hence, double-check every nut and bolt.
Don’t know where to start? I’ve got you. Here’s an acronym to remember:
BLOWBAGET = Battery, Lights, Oil, Water, Brake, Air, Gas, Engine, Tires
On top of that, learn basic car maintenance. I tell you… you can drive the baddest RV or Ferrari but if you don’t know the basic mechanics, your miles are counted.
A summer road trip emergency kit you must keep
Fair warning… when you go on a summer road trip, you’re never too far from a disaster.
Emergency kit is one of those things which hopefully you’ll never have to use but gives you peace of mind knowing it’s there. Heaven forbids, when you or someone nearby gets into a car accident, having an emergency kit could be the difference between life and death.
But what goes in an emergency kit? Let’s take a look.
a.Food and water
An empty stomach is not a happy traveler ⸺ all ride ain’t alright.
With that, a good rule of thumb is to load up on food and water for the trip’s duration plus a day extra in case of unforeseen delays where you may not get back on time.
- Avoid high-fat foods (peanut butter, meat products, military MRE, etc.) because they’re susceptible to heat. Instead, opt for foods with high-temperature tolerance and long shelf life like the Mayday Emergency Food Bars, 3600 calories.
b.Means for shelter
Although your vehicle is your main shelter out there, bring extra means of shelter as you may want to sleep under the stars or have to leave your car behind.
Always keep the following in your car:
- Something to sleep on (hammock, mat, or sleeping pad)
- Something to sleep in (blanket, bivvy, or sleeping bag)
- Something to sleep under (tent, tarp, or big umbrella)
Want a versatile shelter option that provides multiple protection?
The Helikon-Tex Swagman Roll Military Poncho can also serve as an emergency jacket, sleeping bag, blanket, hammock liner, and other insulation purposes ⸺ can’t ask for more!
And if you’re into shelter origami, the DD Tarp 3×3 (10ft x 10ft) can be set up into multiple configurations. Not to mention it’s storm-proof, lightweight, and packs compactly ⸺ can’t beat that!
c.Car repair and maintenance tools
When you’re on your own in the middle of nowhere, having the tools to revive your car could be your ticket to salvation. Although not an exhaustive list, these are all you need 99.3681% of the time.
d.Mechanics tool set
Cars have tons of moving parts that could come loose due to vibration and the laws of physics. Believe it or not, a simple tightening often solves the problem.
Now, if you don’t have time to buy every piece individually and just want everything you need in an organized toolbox, then the DEWALT Mechanics Tools and Socket Set, 108-Piece is the answer to your prayers.
e.Flat tire repair kit
While carrying a spare tire is always a good idea, why change it if you can still fix it and get a few more miles out of it?
Say hello to Slime Flat Tire Emergency Kit, with Sealant and Tire Inflator.
Plug it into your car’s 12V socket, connect to the tire valve, switch on and it will inflate your flat tire in just 10 minutes. Apply the sealant for good measure. And that’s it. You’re good to go!
f.Car jump starter or battery booster
Always have a jump starter so you can resurrect your battery yourself without needing to wait for strangers for help (good luck with that in bad weather).
Summer heat can roast your car’s engine, especially on long road trips. And when your car has had enough and goes Ghost Rider mode, you better hope you’ve got a fire extinguisher to help it chill out.
Speaking of car overheating, engine coolant can prevent car heat stroke before it gets out of hand. Steal these hacks from Geico.
- DON’T pour cold water ⸺ unless you want your engine to be the collateral damage of thermodynamics war.
- DON’T remove the radiator cap while the engine is hot. Doing so can spew out magma of pressurized coolant and burn you. Ouch!
What good is a mountain of repair tools if you can’t even see what you’re doing? A headlamp comes in handy not just at night but also in the daytime as you may have to work deep in the hood or under the car.
Overwhelmed by the sea of headlamps in the market? Let me simplify for you… get the Energizer Led Headlamp Pro360. You’re welcome!
During summer road trips, getting lost, falling off a cliff, running into deep waters, or whatnot (knock on wood) are more common than you think.
That said, never go on a summer road trip without the following:
- Glass breaker with seatbelt cutter like the resqme Car Escape Tool
- Loud whistle like the Fox 40 Sonik Blast
- Tow straps like the NEIKO Heavy Duty Tow Strap with Hooks 2” x 30’
- Road flares (bear flares burn brighter and bigger)
k.First aid kit (plus personal medication)
Your first aid kit must be personalized. Put it together yourself. Don’t just buy off-the-shelf kits without knowing what’s inside or if they’re expired.
In an emergency, not knowing your kit is as deadly as not having one.
- Use the American Red Cross first aid checklist as a basis then customize as you see fit.
- Clearly label your first aid kit bag/pouch and keep it accessible for other people to easily find and use on you.
Summer road trip… get tan lines, not scar lines!
Your preparation and knowledge will define your summer road trip ⸺ adventure so dandy or bloody tragedy. And since you’ve made it this far, you’re now the footloose rider on the storm traversing country roads to sweet home Alabama like the summer of ’69!
Yeah… don’t forget to load your car stereo playlist with rock songs, will ya?