I am counting down the days until we embark on our month-long road trip through California. Driving the Pacific Highway in a Mustang has been on Mr ESLT’s bucket list for so long. We can’t wait to put the roof down and feel the warm June air rush past us as we cruise from San Francisco to Los Angeles, with lots of stop offs in between of course. We’ve hired cars in a few countries over the years and often take road trips in our own cars throughout the UK too. Therefore, through our numerous adventures we have checklist of things we do before we hit the road and during our trip, especially if we are not familiar with the car. Accidents on the road do happen, however we want to ensure, as much as possible, that our journey isn’t ruined by a mishap. Luckily for us we have never had to make any road accident claims and we put that down to pre planning and preparation before even opening the car door. Here’s our checklist, hopefully it’ll help you too when you take your next road trip.
Maintenance CheckThis might seem like the most obvious one but it is one we often forget especially when taking a road trip in our own cars. Luckily for Mr ESLT and I we both have cars which are under a year old so we take it for granted that they are good to go and do not need a maintenance check, but every car does. Things like oil levels, water and tyre pressure may need attention regardless of age. I have got a shocking confession to make, I’ve been driving for nearly 14 years and have never once put water in any of my cars, luckily for me, Mr ESLT is always on the ball with things like that.
UK road trips aren’t too much of a problem as my standard insurance covers me when driving and as I have been driving so long and have never had to claim, my no claims bonus is one of my prized possessions. However, when we drive abroad we always take out every suitable insurance policy possible so we’re not hit with a massive bill if the worst were to happen. For example, when we visited Iceland last year we took out gravel protection insurance because of the many gravel roads on the island, luckily we did not need it, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.
The Right Fuel
Even though I’ve had my car for almost a year, I still have a mini panic attack every time I fill up. My car is diesel (I’m sorry environment, it’s the last one I promise!), it’s even got a big yellow diesel sticker on the fuel cap, yet I still triple check that I’m actually putting the right fuel in it. Imagine the embarrassment of getting it wrong! If I’m like that with my own car, just imagine what I’m like in a hire car? We hired a Kombi in Australia that took a special petrol that could only be found at a few petrol stations, I was on edge every time we needed to refill, I really didn’t want to explain a mistake to the hire company.
Preparing For EmergenciesHaving worked in Emergency Planning for 13 years I feel that this area is my forte. However, it’s only been recently I’ve started to practice what I preach (tut!). I have put together a kit that I carry in my boot at all times but especially when taking a road trip, it includes – warm clothes and blankets, torch and spare batteries, boots, first aid kit, jump leads, a shovel, road atlas, sunglasses, food and a flask with hot or cold drink depending on the season and all medication that Mr ESLT and I take. I’d like to think that if we did run into trouble we could be self-sufficient for quite a while. When hiring a car abroad we try to ensure we have as much of our kit with us as practically possible too.
Plan Your Journey In AdvanceAt home, our cars have Sat Navs built into them, which over the years have made us reliant on them. You simply type in the post code or street name in and voilà your route has been planned for you. However, when we travelled around Australia in a Kombi we didn’t have that luxury as she was built in 1973! Therefore, before we even left England I had planned out and printed off daily routes for us to take to ensure we used our time wisely and got to see everything we wanted to. Obviously, we still made stop offs and minor detours if something caught our eye but by having the route framework in place it ensured we didn’t get lost or stray into trouble. It also meant no massive data roaming fees from using Google Maps on our iPhones.
Buckle UpThis may seem like an obvious one, but when you are eager to get on the road or only making a short journey it is something that may slip your mind. In the UK it is the law for all drivers and passengers over the age of 14 to wear a seatbelt. It is the responsibility of the passenger and not the driver to ensure that they are wearing their seatbelt throughout the journey. Only people with medical exemption certificates don’t have too. Children must use the correct child seat with seatbelt and that is the responsibility of the driver. If you are planning on driving outside of your country check the local laws. Even if wearing a seatbelt isn’t the law, why wouldn’t you? If you are in an accident, it could reduce the possibility of injury and even safe your life.
Lock Your Doors Even When DrivingA lot of modern cars lock themselves automatically once you hit a certain speed, on mine it’s 7mph. Others have central locking where at the press of a button you can lock all the doors on your car at once. However, on others you have to manually lock your car doors. Regardless of how it is done, I recommend you lock them even when driving. Luckily, it has never happened to me but I’m aware of people who have had their bags stolen off their passenger seat when stationary at a red light. Image if that happened whist you were on a road trip abroad and your bag had your passport, cash and credit cards in – what a way to ruin what should be a great adventure.
Don’t Drink/Text/Call/Update Social MediaI’m sure we all adhere to the rules of the road when it comes to not drinking and driving and not using our mobile phone when behind the wheel – it is common sense, surely? If you have a glass of wine with your lunch then leave the car, if you see the most instagrammable place in the world then pull over to take your photograph, if you need to update your twitter status raving about what a great time you’re having then wait until you arrive at your destination. It’s simple, let’s all not do stupid things that could hurt us or others – deal?
- This post has been written in collaboration with Slater & Gordon #safejourneyguide. Opinions are of course our own – let’s stay safe folks!