It’s finally starting to feel like summer, and with that comes the epic adventures of summertime road tripping. It’s time to get the family all together, pack up the car and set off making those memories that will last a lifetime!
Of course, before you head out, there are a few things you should do first. This is our handy summer road trip checklist, to help you make sure all your bases are covered before taking to the open road.
Check Your Tires.
We are car people, so of course, the first thing we think of is making sure that your tires are in good shape. However, all it takes is one time stuck on the side of the road, waiting for a towtruck to make you into an avid tire checker. So, before you set off, check the air pressure, inspect the surface for superficial damage, and have a look at the tread. If any of it seems off, drop by and have one of our tire experts take a look. Better to get an issue dealt with at home before you go, than deal with it on the road. And don’t forget to check your spare as well.
Pack a Puncture Kit.
You inspected your tires before leaving, and everything is perfect. However, that doesn’t mean you won’t pick up a nail on the highway. Having a puncture kit means you can get yourself sorted and back on your way in no time. Our team is happy to recommend just the right product to have in your trunk.
Oil Change and Fluid Check.
In most modern vehicles, the oil changes are pretty scheduled affairs. If you’re driving a German car that only needs it done once a year, you could almost be forgiven for forgetting all about it. That said, it’s worth having a summer inspection done of all your fluids before you set off on any long-distance drives. The high temperatures and humidity add some extra strain on your engine. And, it’s worth making sure all the levels are adequate to get you through the season safely.
Summer Emergency Kit.
Sometimes, despite all your preparations, car trouble happens. Which means you could find yourself waiting on the side of the road for help to arrive. A summer emergency kit is crucial for such an occasion. Probably the most critical item is water. Be sure to stock yours with at least a one-litre bottle for each passenger. Besides the water, you want to have a box of granola bars, a flashlight, and some hazard pylons. You may also want a cellphone battery charger, a windshield shade, and maybe some roadside flares for after dark. Hopefully, you never find yourself stranded during a road trip. Although it’s always best to pack enough emergency supplies to keep you comfortable waiting out there for several hours.
Have Your Battery Checked.
Car batteries have a lifespan, and Ottawa winters have been known to help make them shorter. Before you embark on a long trip, make sure your battery has enough life left to do the job. It’s also essential that no matter how new your battery is, that you pack a set of jumper cables. You never want to be stranded and have a helpful stranger pull over to lend a hand, only to realize that neither of you has wires.
Let People Know Where You’re Going.
In our modern, connected world, we never feel like we’re out of touch for even a moment. However, it’s incredible as you set off across Canada on a road trip how quickly the cities seem to fade. Before you and the family leave on your adventure, make sure there is someone who knows where you’re going. Share your itinerary and even check-in along the way. Having a buddy who knows where you are is an easy to do extra-layer of safety.
Get Your Windows Tinted.
While window tint may not seem like a pressing item as you plan your road trip, it is a pretty great add-on. The right tint job will help make your car much more comfortable during those hot summer days on the road. With a quality window tint, you can drastically reduce the amount of heat that penetrates the vehicle, especially while it’s sitting there with the AC off at a roadside stop. Not to mention you make it harder for thieves who may be looking for targets in the OnRoute parking lots.
Check Your Wiper Blades.
Especially after just having come through an Ottawa winter, you want to make sure your wipers are ready for more. And while summer tends to be a little kinder to wipers, summer storms still have a way of putting them to the test. The rule of thumb is to have them changed twice a year, but don’t be afraid to increase that frequency if they look even a little worn out.
Pack a Cooler
While it’s fun to stop at new and exciting restaurants along the way, having a cooler full of goodies means you’re not going to have to stop every few hours. Especially if you have a car full of children, having a cooler loaded with snacks is going to help make the trip much more enjoyable. A great option is to get a cooler with a car plug-in capability. This allows you to keep things adequately refrigerated without worrying about icepacks, or how frequently the kids are not putting the top back on properly.
Travel Trash Bag
This may seem like a silly item until you’re two hours in, and your car is starting to resemble the kids’ rooms. Having a designated spot for all garbage helps you keep some semblance of order along the way. And it can be as easy as having an old plastic grocery bag. Of course, if you want something that attaches to the car seat and seals in odours, there are a variety of available options. You may even be wise to position a couple of designated trash bags if you drive a van or an SUV.
First Aid Kit
Hopefully, you never need this for anything more than the odd bandaid, but having it ready is essential. Just be sure that before each road trip that you inspect and replace anything that’s expired or depleted.
Hand Sanitizer and Face Masks
After a year of lockdowns and social distancing, everyone is adjusting to a new normal when it comes to interacting with their fellow travellers. As the restrictions relax and Canadians start to move about their country again, having an extra layer of precaution is not a bad idea. When it comes to hand sanitizer, give each person a small pocket-sized bottle to keep on them, and then purchase a large refill bottle to have in the car to top everyone up from. With face masks, try allowing your kids to choose their own in the weeks leading up to the trip. You want to make sure they are comfortable with the one they selected before you leave. This will help ensure they keep it on in busy public areas.
Have paper towels in the car and keep them easily accessible. If you have kids with you, have lots a paper towel in the car. Whether you’re cleaning up spills, washing off faces, or keeping sticky stuff from being wiped on the upholstery, paper towels are a road trip must-have.
It’s hard to imagine a time when we all used to order Trip-Tiks from the CAA. These handy custom flip-maps were our only guide into parts unknown. Today, with Tom-Toms and smartphones and the like, we are used to having digital access to GPS directions on-demand. The trouble is, with a country as vast as Canada, there are still pockets of roads with little to no cellular coverage. A few paper printouts of the highway you’re planning to travel could come in very handy should you find yourself stuck at a crossroad without a signal.
Sunscreen and Hats
The summer heat can catch many people by surprise. It’s so lovely out that often it’s not until it’s too late that folks remember how quickly a sunburn can get you. And nothing quite spoils a fun road trip like dealing with a burn. Even twenty minutes at a roadside attraction can be enough to land you with a car full of aching lobster-looking children. Be sure to keep a bottle of sunscreen in the car where it’s easily accessible. All children should have their own hat, and make sure it’s the car rule that everyone has to have it on when they step outside. A little bit of vigilance upfront can save you all sorts of after-sun hassle.
Summer Road trips are a Canadian right of passage. Generations of families have been piling in their cars and setting out to explore the country one kilometre at a time.
By taking the time to prepare your family and your vehicle for the road ahead, you can ensure that everyone has a trip to remember.