The call of the open road is something that many of us hear, and deep down we want to answer. There’s little that beats that feeling of getting behind the wheel and exploring the unknown—whether it’s off the beaten track or on top of a two-lane blacktop.
However, if you’re heading off on a road trip in your SUV, it’s important to make sure that you have all the necessary equipment, cover, and setup. Spontaneity is awesome, but it’s not a ton of fun if it leaves you stuck on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere with no backup plan because you failed to prepare.
If you want to be a frequent road warrior, you need some must-haves and must-dos, starting with the following.
Regular car maintenance is a must for any vehicle in any situation. However, for a vehicle that you like to take on long road trips, it’s absolutely critical. Your SUV is going to take you places far and wide, and the last thing you want is to break down in the middle of nowhere because you let maintenance slide.
Between road trips, make sure you take care of maintenance like changing your oil, topping up brake fluid and other liquids, checking the wear on your tires, and ensuring your lights are all working. It’s also important to keep an eye on your mileage and think about the miles you’re about to cover on your next trip. If a service is going to come up in the middle of a trip, get that service done beforehand. Leaving it until afterwards might be too late.
Packing your clothes, food, and gear is an important part of any road trip. You want the items you’ll need on the road readily available and you don’t want everything to roll around in the trunk getting mixed up. This is where stacking boxes and well-labeled bags come in handy.
A good rule of wrench is to group your items together. You can categorize them by emergency supplies, repair kits, tool box, clothing, toiletries and food to make the process easier.
You can then pack these according to how quickly you may need to get to them. If you’re also stopping somewhere before you get to your main destination, think about a small overnight bag with your essentials so you don’t have to completely unpack at each stop.
On a road trip, it can be easy to pack your SUV to the maximum because you want to be prepared for any and every eventuality. The problem with this is that you can overload your vehicle and risk putting strain on it in a dangerous way.
If you have a roof rack on your SUV, make sure you know what the maximum load is on the anchor points so that you don’t apply too much weight or too much force with the straps you use.
Sure, a road trip is all about getting away. However, our smartphones are so much a part of our lives that it’s a good idea to have a way to access your phone that’s safe and easy while on the road.
In newer vehicles, you should have Bluetooth connectivity for taking and making calls, as well as playing music from your phone. You may also have CarPlay for Apple devices and Auto for Android devices. These are great because you can also use your smartphone as your navigation device with this. Many newer vehicles also have their own dashboard software and features you can use.
Also consider getting a secure phone mount for your dashboard. You can get ones that use suction cups to stick to the top of the dash or ones that slot into the vents on the front of your dashboard.
Road trips are an adventure, but they can get a little boring if you’ve got a long way to go on a straight road. Good music playlists are essential, and so is having a variety of them so that you can play music to fit your mood. Consider also downloading some podcasts and audiobooks when you don’t feel like listening to music. It’s also fun to have some games to play when you have a car full of family or friends. “Did you hear that…” and “While you were sleeping” can both keep you entertained during those monotonous stretches.
This one isn’t as fun to talk about, but it’s probably the biggest must-have on the list. You want to make sure that you have comprehensive insurance from one of the best companies. Your cover needs to be suitable for your vehicle, the places you’re traveling to, and the type of roads you’re driving on.
Having insurance that provides a rental vehicle and roadside assistance so that you don’t get stranded en route is an excellent idea too.
Extreme weather can seriously hamper your road trip. If you know you could experience snow, rain storms, extreme heat or something else, make sure you have the equipment you need for your SUV.
Ice scrapers and snow shovels are a must for the cold weather. Water repellent spray for your windscreen can also make driving in the rain much safer. Temperature gauges for your tires and engine can also provide peace of mind when driving in serious heat.
Road trips can often mean long hours in the vehicle with little access to amenities. With this in mind, make sure that you have cleaning supplies you can use for cleaning up spills in the car or dirt on the windscreen. You should pack wipes you can use for your hands, which can even serve as a temporary alternative to a shower if you’re going into the great unknown.
If you’re looking to enjoy the freedom of the open road, you need to plan properly beforehand and get everything you need for your SUV. It’ll make your adventure possible and prevent any unpleasant, unplanned stops along the way.