(MCT) -- August is to the time of year when Americans pack the car, head on down the road and unwind for a bit of rest and relaxation. Nevertheless, being prepared for a road trip could make the difference between a vacation you'll always remember and one you'll want to forget. So before you hit the highway, here are a few things to consider.
-A few days before leaving, have all of the systems checked, including tires, belts, brakes, air conditioning, battery, wipers and cooling system.
-Make sure your vehicle's spare tire is properly inflated and usable.
-Clean the car thoroughly, inside and out. Don't have the time? A professional car detailer will make your ride sparkle.
-Pack an emergency road kit, including jumper cables, road flares and a first aid kit. Don't have one? They're readily available at auto parts stores.
-If your car is old or has high mileage, consider renting a vehicle instead.
-Wile away the hours with a tablet, CDs, DVDs, MP3 player, satellite radio or audio books.
ENTERTAIN YOUR CHILDREN
-Along with your children's favorite toys and books, take along a goodie bag to reward good behavior.
-Of course, a portable DVD player or tablet will also keep them happy.
-Pack pillows and blankets for naps, and a bit of peace and quiet.
FOR THOSE AT HOME
-Make sure that someone has a trip itinerary, so people can find you in an emergency.
-This may sound obvious, but don't forget your driver's license, vehicle registration and auto and medical insurance cards.
-And of course, you are taking a mobile phone with car charger, right?
PACKING THE CAR
-Place heavier items as close as possible to the center of the vehicle.
-Secure loose items so they don't hit passengers during a panic stop.
-Remember, you might need access to the spare tire.
-Don't overload your ride as this can lead to unsafe handling. The maximum load capacity for your car, truck or SUV is listed in the owner's manual.
-Using a navigation system? Enter destinations ahead of time. If you're old school, and still using road maps, stack them in order of use.
-It's a good idea to carry a spare set of vehicle keys.
-Bring along your doctor's phone number and any prescriptions that might be needed.
With a little forethought, your vacation can be hassle free.
ABOUT THE WRITER
Larry Printz is an automotive journalist based in Virginia Beach, Va. He may be reached at ljprintz(at)gmail.com.
(c)2014 Larry Printz
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