Preparing to spend a long time behind the wheel can be a daunting task, especially on top of whatever it is you’re doing at the end of your long drive. Taking the time to prepare yourself, your car, and all the essentials is going to make you feel confident and ready for the journey ahead.
Here’s our checklist of everything you need to prepare for your road trip, so that you can feel safe embarking on your adventure.
How to Prepare Your Car for a Long Drive
- Check under the hood: Pop the hood and check the engine oil, coolant and windscreen washer reservoir. When you keep your car regularly serviced, this is something that’s already done for you, however you can refer to your owner’s manual when you do need to check these yourself.
- Check your tyres: Check the condition of your tyres and consider replacing them if they are showing too much wear and tear. You can do this by placing a 20c coin into the tread of your tyre. If the whole of the number 20 can be seen, there’s less than 2mm of tread left on your tyres - and it’s time to get some new ones. You should also check your tyres are inflated to the correct tyre pressure. On Suzuki models the recommended tyre pressures are usually shown on the B-pillar (so the pillar between the front and rear doors). Low tyre pressures can make a significant difference to the way your vehicle handles so this is very important. You’ll also want to check the condition of your spare tyre - and make sure you have your tyre iron and jack too.
- Check your lights and indicators: Walk around your car to check all of your lights and indicators are working and that the lenses are clean. If you are towing then also check that all the trailer lights are connected and working.
- Do an external clean: You want to ensure you have clear visibility when driving, so clean the windscreen, rear window and side mirrors before you hit the road.
- Do an internal clean: Before a long road trip, do a quick onceover inside with the vacuum and throw out any rubbish.
- Fill the tank: As soon as you leave home, head to your nearest petrol station and fill up the tank. You don’t want to worry if your car is going to make it to the next town.
- Be road safe: Check your warrant of fitness and registration are all up to date.
- Get roadside assistance: Consider getting roadside assistance and have peace of mind so no matter what happens to your car, help is just a call away. All new Suzukis come with a 5 year roadside assistance package, so you can hit the road with one less thing to worry about.
What to Pack for a Road Trip
- Your Emergency Car Kit: This includes all the must-haves for those unexpected accidents - including a warning triangle, jumper cables, a torch, and tyre repair kit. Check out this blog for more information on preparing your Emergency Car Kit.
- First Aid Kit: This should be part of your Emergency Car Kit, but is especially useful to keep in your car at all times. Remember to include any particular medication you need for anyone on board, as well as general medication like painkillers or antihistamines.
- Hand sanitizers and hand wipes: In the current climate, take as much precaution as you can when it comes to keeping your car germ-free. Pack hand sanitizer, disposable gloves and disposable face masks - you never know when you might need them! And if you make a pit stop on your journey, make sure everyone in the car sanitizes their hands before getting back in the car.
- Water and snacks: It’s important to keep energy levels up on a big journey. Save money and time by visiting the supermarket prior to or at the start of your trip to stock up on plenty of supplies.
- Sunglasses: Sun-strike is more dangerous than you think, and you never know when it may occur. It’s caused when the angle of sunlight hitting your car’s windscreen creates a blinding glare, and research has shown that sun glare adversely affects your perception of road conditions, leading to faster fatigue and reduced driving performance, increasing the risk of accidents. If you don’t usually keep a pair of sunglasses in the car, remember to pack some for your long drive.
- Phone charger: Aside from using your phone for useful functions such as playing music or discovering where you are going to eat out, you don’t want to be stuck with a dead battery if your car were to break down. Make sure you have a way to charge your phone while you’re driving - if you don’t have a way to charge your phone from your car, pack a portable power bank.
- Rubbish bag: A simple plastic bag can go a long way when it comes to keeping rubbish under control on a road trip. Keep it somewhere central and encourage your passengers to avoid the temptation of dropping their trash on the car floor. Empty before you take the return trip home so any food smells don’t linger in your car.
- A spare towel: You might be surprised how handy a spare towel can be. It’s useful for cleaning up spills or cleaning dirty windshields, or for putting across laps for people eating in the car.
How to Prepare Yourself for Long Trips
- Rest up: Before the day of your big drive, make sure you get a good night’s sleep and you’re feeling well rested, as driving tired is very dangerous. If you begin to feel fatigued during your journey, don’t rely on caffeine to keep you going - instead pull over to rest and refresh.
- Go hands-free: If you don’t have a hands-free setup to use your phone, think about how you’ll handle incoming calls and notifications as you don’t want to be distracted. Considering muting notifications for the drive time and using the Sat Nav for finding your way.
- Line up your entertainment: Download podcasts, audiobooks, or make your perfect playlist in preparation for your long drive. If you have kids, plan plenty of entertainment to keep them from going crazy and potentially causing you extra distractions and stress. And even adults can enjoy a good game of Car Cricket or Punch Buggy Swift.
- Cap your drive time: Know your limits. Plan to stop regularly and have a good stretch - after long stints of driving you need to rest your body as well as your mind. If your trip spans across multiple days, reduce your daily drive time to make sure you have enough rest in between each day.
- Map it out: Plan your route, check the condition of roads you’ll be using, and roughly plan out where you can stop for toilet breaks, petrol fill ups, or food. If possible, look into alternative routes you could take if roads are closed due to accidents or unforeseen weather.
A little preparation goes a long way, and ticking off everything on our checklist is going to help you have a better, safer road trip - as well as being prepared for the things you don’t plan for.
If you’re thinking about getting a new car that’ll make you love road trips even more, check out our Ultimate Guide to Buying a New Car.