Fuel up the car, roll down the windows and turn up the radio; it’s just about road trip season! Warmer weather is enticing you to switch out your winter tires and tune up the car in anticipation of hitting the open road and exploring.
With a weak dollar and struggling economy many Canadians are opting to vacation within our boarders this year, and why not? We spend so much time seeking refuge from winter weather; we often take for granted the culture, beauty and natural magnificence hidden here in our very own backyards.
Whether you’re hitting the road to visit family and friends or taking in the sights on a cross Canada tour, here are some of the best ways to make the most of your road trip experience…
Service your vehicle, even if it’s in good working order. A big road trip, adding a couple of thousand kilometers to the odometer translates to a lot more wear and tear than you would usually put on during your daily commute to the office. Don’t risk getting caught stuck in the middle of nowhere trying to hitch a ride or climbing mountain tops in search of cell reception to make a call for help. With just a few basics you can be on the road confidently, including:
- Oil change
- Tire rotation and inspection
- Multi-point vehicle inspection; service offered by most reputable mechanics
Also, be sure that you’re vehicle is properly equipped with basic maintenance items; a good spare tire, a road side kit including jumper cables and extra washer fluid.
But what if your jalopy isn’t road trip worthy? Consider renting a car. Many companies offer affordable rates with unlimited mileage. Do your research to find the best deal, and if you do choose to rent a vehicle, be sure to check your personal auto insurance policy. It may already include rental car coverage and if it doesn’t it is usually far more cost effective to add it to your policy than to take the extra coverage offered by the rental agency.
Roadside assistance. Even if your ride is in mint condition, you still may find yourself in need of a helping hand. Running out of gas, changing a tire or worse, getting tangled in a collision; it’s nice to know help is just a phone call away.
Most vehicle manufacturers offer roadside assistance. If yours is one of them, a little legwork is a good idea to ensure the coverage is comprehensive. It may still be worthwhile to invest a little in a plan that covers the items you feel are most important, and compare costs. And, don’t forget to make sure your provider covers the areas you plan to roam.
Cash is king. I don’t remember the last time I took cash out of the bank “just in case”. Why would I when I can pay with all sorts of plastic and even my phone? It’s safer and certainly more convenient. However, if you happen to stumble across a roadside market, fruit stands or a small town mom and pop shop, you’ll be glad you’ve got some pocket change. After all, it would be a shame if you missed out on that one-of-a-kind fridge magnet you just can’t live without.
Have a plan. This doesn’t mean scheduling every minute of your vacation, in fact the allure of the road trip is making impromptu stops along the way and exploring. That said, organizing a few small details before you get out the door can make all the difference, for example:
- Estimate how much ground you hope to cover each day and if you can, reserve accommodations ahead of time so you have a place to rejuvenate after a full day. Or, keep a list with phone numbers handy so your passengers can call ahead when you are getting close. Driving tired is never a good idea.
- If you’re going solo scope out a few pit stops ahead of time to stretch your legs or grab snacks. If you’ve got company, arrange to share the driving so that you can take in the scenery too and rest when needed.
- Have a back-up plan. Road conditions, construction, or collisions can cause real setbacks, so knowing a couple of alternate routes could spare you the stress and help you make the most of your time.
And finally, don’t forget the fun stuff. Like curating the perfect playlist or packing your favourite road trip treats… If you ask me, no journey longer than three hours is complete without licorice and Pringles.
Want to know more? Review these sources and resources.
Mail yourself a postcard – A great idea for creating a travel journal!
Have More Questions?
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Everyday Insurance With Allie
Working mom, lover of the great outdoors and self-professed know-it-all. Our resident blogger, Allie isn’t the insurance guru she claims to be – but she’s learning and we are happy to help guide her. All the while keeping you in the loop on the “insurancey” stuff you need to know. #AskAllie