How To Prepare for a Road Trip

With so many places to visit across Alberta, your road trip bucket list can go on forever. But the amount of fun you’ll have is partially dependent on how well prepared you are — that’s where we come in.

Before You Hit the Road

Let’s slow down a bit and make sure your vehicle’s ready for whatever your road trip can throw at it, no matter how long you’ll be gone.

  • Give your Car the Once-Over: A quick inspection can make sure that everything’s in good working order: the horn, windshield wipers, and brake pads add obvious safety. But when did you last check that all of your brake lights or a/c are working properly?
  • Pump Up Your Tires (and Your Wallet): The right amount of air in your tires helps you keep control, especially when driving on gravel, in rain, or through other hazardous conditions. And since properly inflated tires also give you better fuel mileage, you’ll have more dough to spend at all of those souvenir shops along the way.
  • Insect Guts are Not Transparent: Those bugs can be tough to see around, and they come off a lot easier before they dry. Make sure your fluid levels are topped up (especially the windshield washer fluid) and don’t forget to check for leaks underneath the vehicle after filling them.

Common knowledge, we know. But what about those slightly more adventurous weekend trips? Alberta is known for its fantastic camping sites, RVing destinations, and weekend getaways in the Rockies. But more time away from the homestead requires a little more prep.

The Weekend Getaway

If a weekend getaway is in the cards, add these simple items to your checklist.

  • RV and Trailer Safety: Every year, we see more Albertans on the road with recreational vehicles and trailers. An RV-focused training course ensures that you’re operating that house on wheels safely.
  • Is Your Trailer Ready? Eight months of winter and four months of mosquito season — that’s the joke. But the reality is, a lot can be overlooked during those eight months — like your trailer’s registration expiring. Update your RV insurance and registration documents before you hitch up.
  • It’s Driving, not Dodgeball: Longer trips mean more “stuff” in your car, and sudden stops and sharp corners can turn loose items into ricocheting hazards. Secure all of your luggage, bags, and backpacks in the trunk or behind the front seats.
  • Safety Foremost: Double-check your emergency road kit and first aid kit. Many of those items have expiry dates, so make sure everything’s in good condition and current. Depending where you’ll be travelling, add extra items you might need like sunburn cream or an extra blanket.
  • Check Your Battery’s Vitals: Give your battery a once over to make sure the cables are secure and there’s no corrosion around the contact points.
  • Lock It or Lose It: RVs are attractive targets for thieves due the promise of gear and valuables inside. Keep your truck and trailer doors locked and keep possessions out of sight. For more tips, check out 9 Smart Tips to Outwit Vehicle Thieves.

Planning for Long Road Trips

If you’ve decided to really have an adventure and hit the road for a week or more, be sure you also …

  • Review Your Maintenance Schedule: Ensuring that your oil is clean, tires are rotated, and your timing belt is in good shape can save you hundreds (even thousands) in the long run. Follow your car’s maintenance schedule to keep your car ready for any road trip.
  • Let Your Trip Be Known (to Someone): Leave your travel itinerary with a family member, neighbour, or trusted friend. Mail falling out of a mailbox signifies an easy target for burglars, so arrange to have someone come in to regularly check on your house and bring it in. Maintaining a “lived-in” appearance while you’re away is a great preventative way to avoid home insurance claims, as you’re less likely to experience any unwanted “surprises” when you return.
  • Learn the Out of Province Road Rules: Not all provinces are alike, and apprehension is common when it comes to busy highway driving. Especially in the summer and on long weekends, when travelling through a not-too-familiar province … I’m sayin’, there are a lot of crazies out there. You want to remember your road trip for all the right reasons, so if you’re not 100% confident in your highway driving skills, take some brush-up lessons and starting building that confidence.

Conclusion

Of course, keep your AMA membership in your pocket, as you never know when you may need a boost or a tow, and the province is filled with Rewards partners, just waiting to help you truly experience the famous Alberta road trip.


I am an Online Content Specialist from Edmonton at the AMA. Am happiest when it is gloriously gloomy outside.