According to an Ipsos Reid poll, four out 10 Canadians will get behind the wheel for a road trip this summer. Fuelled by inspiring road-trip ideas, glossy brochures, and pent-up, pandemic cabin fever, people are eager to hit the asphalt and let the horizon unfurl before them.
Whether you venture out for a day trip or travel through Alberta’s Rockies or all the way to Newfoundland and Labrador’s Irish Loop, it’s important keep a few points in mind for ease of travel.
It’s tempting to spontaneously throw a few things in a bag and jack rabbit the car to unknown destinations, however, Ryan Lemont, AMA’s manager of driver education, encourages careful planning for a more memorable and safe summer adventure.
First on Lemont’s list is a tune-up, a precaution to make sure a vehicle is safe and runs smoothly for short-distance and long-distance driving.
“A lot goes into the operation of a vehicle. You want to get where you are going safely. Book an appointment with a mechanic and take the winter tires off. Check the oil, check the battery, hoses, filters, brakes, and fluids. And after driving the car 100 kilometres, get a lug-nut torque,” said Lemont.
Before heading off for an epic adventure, review your licence and registration. Make sure the insurance policy is up to date and keep a copy in the car.
Roadside emergencies happen, even to the most diligent drivers. Nobody wants an emergency derailing a family vacation, so preparation is key. Bring your vehicle manual, a spare tire, and a roadside emergency kit. A thought-out kit can contain tools, booster cables, light sticks, a reflective vest, rain poncho, tire pressure gauge, and a whistle.
Toss a paper map in the glove compartment for emergencies. Everyone relies on Google maps, however some locations lack cell service or the information is spotty and out-of-date.
In case the phone dies, Lemont recommends packing cellphone chargers or USB cords.
“Many vehicles have plug-ins for phone chargers or charging cables. You can charge your phone while driving.”
Other fun backups range from an epic playlist of songs, audio books, and paper books to travel games, colouring books, and cameras.
For added comfort, sunglasses, water bottles, travel mugs, and window shades are handy to pack. Coming out of a pandemic, hand sanitizer and masks are also recommended.
“Bring simple stuff and dress for the weather. We live in lovely Alberta where the weather changes so quickly. You need to be prepared. A flashlight and a blanket are good to have. Even a protein bar or a snack. My personal favourite is nibs.”
A practical toiletry bag keeps all personal items in one place. It can contain any combination of things, such as sunscreen, body wipes, lip balm, hairbrush, tweezers, tissues, medication, and painkillers.
It’s also a smart idea to slip cash in your wallet. Not all places take credit or debit. A Swiss army knife, bug spray, plastic bags for garbage, and a reusable shopping bag add convenience to a trip.
“One thing to be aware of is the extra weight and how your car drives. Make sure you have clean sight lines and use Bluetooth, so you don’t have distractions and can focus on the road,” Lemont said.
He also reminds holiday goers to avoid speeding.
“Use smooth acceleration and smooth braking and plan a route before you start. It can help reduce fuel consumption. And when you head out on the road, if ever you come across an emergency scene, slow down, move over, and let folks work so everyone can go home at the end of the day.”