Get Your Vehicle Ready for a Family Road Trip!

Vacation time is nearing, and a family road trip is on the horizon. When checking off the road trip ‘to-do’ list, there is one last remaining task: making sure the family vehicle is checked out and ready to go. When planning a family road trip, one of the most important items to take care of is ensuring the family vehicle’s checklist is checked off. The family vehicle is such a critical component of a planned road trip it is important to make sure all the necessary vehicle inspections have been performed and the vehicle is deemed ready for the trip. The family vehicle has many items to check beyond the tires and oil; although these items are critical for any successful trip, many other items on the list also need to be addressed. These are some vehicle-related items that should be checked before undertaking a family road trip.

Verify Important Documentation Is Up-To-Date

Part of the planning for a family road trip should always include verifying that all the necessary documentation is in effect and up to date. Check any insurance, IDs, vehicle registration, or passports if you’re traveling to another country. If you take the time to be prepared, your trip will go off without a hitch. You should make sure and check these items before undertaking a long family tip:

Emergency roadside assistance

It is advisable before beginning a family road trip to verify your emergency roadside assistance policy is in effect. In an emergency such as running out of gas, flat tire, or any unplanned occurrences, roadside assistance is worth the peace of mind, knowing you are covered for unforeseen emergencies 24/7.

In addition, this type of policy is quite affordable for covered emergency services. Any number of emergencies along the road on a family trip requiring assistance can quickly pay for a policy, simply not having to use money out of your pocket.

Family Health and Car Insurance Information

Before any family trip, it is crucial to have current documents and cards for both car and health insurance in case of any emergencies. You’ll have no problems if you carry these everywhere. Always stay prepared!

Proof of Car Insurance and Registration Documents

It is the law in most states to always carry proof of current insurance and car registration documents. It may also be a good idea to inform your auto insurance provider of the upcoming trip. They will be aware of you being on the road for a significant time.

Carry Multiple Methods of Payment

For ‘just in case’ situations, always carry multiple payment methods. This includes cash, credit or debit cards, and personal checks. Any one of these methods of payment may be the only acceptable form of payment under certain circumstances.

Complete Any Necessary Vehicle Repairs

It is advisable to complete any mechanical or auto body repair work before making a family road trip. For example, maybe the trunk is not locking properly after a minor accident and is prone to popping open. It would be best to have the necessary bodywork performed before the trip for it to securely lock and not have any surprises while on the road.

Have the Vehicle Cleaned for the trip

Traveling in a clean vehicle on a family trip makes traveling more enjoyable. Before starting the trip, take the vehicle to a car wash service, where it will be cleaned inside and out. This act will make the entire trip seem more special for the entire family.

Have Chipped or Cracked Auto Glass Repaired

If the family automobile has a cracked windshield or has large chips in it, it is advisable to take it to an auto glass repair shop for fixing. The structural integrity of glass can be compromised when it is chipped or cracked. This could be a serious issue in the worst case where there is another vehicle involved in an accident.

Make a list of important phone numbers

Before undertaking a family road trip, it is a good practice to make a list of important phone numbers. Among the entries for the phone number list are writing down the numbers for a towing company, insurance company, medical contact number, and family physician.

Include emergency contact numbers for family members and close friends and printed directions along with a map. A GPS is a fantastic tool, but too often, a physical map is a great backup for driving directions when the GPS doesn’t function correctly.

Freshen the Look of the Family Vehicle

You have waited for a family road trip all year, and now that it is quickly approaching, one of the last things to address is the condition of the family vehicle. The family road trip is a time of fun, adventure, and being together as a family unit.

The family vehicle becomes an extension of the family for the trip. It is important to prepare it, too. When traveling down a busy highway, that unsightly crease and another car’s paint on your fender becomes more of an eyesore.

This is the time to schedule a visit with your favorite local car painting or collision repair center and get the damaged fender repaired. The family car will have a much better appearance when traveling for vacation, and a clean, freshly painted auto will brighten the family’s spirits. This is also the perfect time to take the family vehicle to an auto fabric repair and finally repair that torn front seat.

Have the Family Vehicle Checked Out Mechanically

It is important to take your vehicle to the local auto repair shop and have it thoroughly checked out for any existing or possible mechanical failures. Some suggested items to be checked include your engine. Have the engine checked for leaks, belts, hoses, smoke, or any unusual noises. Also, check all fluid levels, including water, transmission, and oil.

A common tell-tale sign the vehicle’s brakes may have an issue: they squeak when being applied. Other indications of issues are if the vehicle pulls in one direction or another when applied, especially if braked sharply. If any of these conditions, it is important to have checked out before starting a family road trip.

You don’t want to be sitting on the side of a road with a vehicle that will not start due to a dead battery. So, it is important to have the battery cables and terminals checked for any corrosion on the terminals. The battery should have all corrosion removed and the cables tightened for proper operation.

Tires should be carefully inspected before undertaking a family road trip for wear, inflation, and any foreign objects picked up by the tires. The tires should also be checked for damage like uneven tread wear, tire tread too worn, or noticeable sidewall cracking. The last thing you want on a family road trip is a dangerous blowout on a busy road that can challenge maintaining vehicle control.

To prevent accidents, it is important to check all lights, including brake, turn signal, parking, braking, and headlights. Test the lights for proper illumination, looking for any spent bulbs or loose connections. All applicable fluid levels should be checked, including brake fluid, transmission, oil, and window washer. Belts and hoses should be checked for excessive wear, any leaks, or too much slack in any of the belts. Also, closely check hoses for any leaking pinholes or excessive wear.

Why Is It Important to Get Your Vehicle Ready for a Road Trip?

There are so many things left on the checklist in preparation for a family road trip, but one item we must not forget is to check the vehicle’s condition. If there are some problems with the vehicle that need to be corrected, it is not advisable to have the items fixed on the road. Repairs will be much more expensive while on the trip, and not to mention all the angst that can be created with a trip interruption.

So do yourself a favor and get any repairs done before beginning a family road trip. As a bonus, a well-maintained vehicle may get better mileage over the trip and save additional money. The most important reason is making sure the vehicle is safe to drive, and all the systems are working properly to protect your family on the trip.

There are not many ways to ruin the excitement of a family road trip than the family vehicle breaking down. When the family is heading to the beach or mountains, the last thing you want to do is to sit on the side of the highway with a broken-down vehicle and try to get a ride to a garage. The moment you pull out of the garage driveway, you will be a hero for going over the vehicle’s checklist and everything fixed on the vehicle and checked off. All the hard work pays off when the vehicle is running smoothly, and the family is excitedly looking forward to their big adventure.

Must Have Items for Any Road Trip

Some items should be packed or checked for road trips. The items that might be packed for a trip to the beach would be different from those packed for snow-topped mountains. These are some suggested items for taking a family road trip based on different destinations and types of weather.

Must Have Items for Any Time of Year

Necessities that should be packed for road trips during any season, weather conditions, or destination include a cell phone and charger. Never leave home without them in emergencies. Make sure to pack some light rain gear, even if the weather is rainy you can still be out in the scenery having fun. Always carry a disposable camera in the vehicle. In case of an accident, photograph the accident scene and geolocation without moving anything at the scene of the accident.

Make sure to pack batteries of varying sizes for all the electronic devices, with some having different size requirements. Always carry at least one flashlight and possibly two depending on the destination, also have plenty of the correct batteries. Many vehicle manufacturers do not include a spare tire, so make sure if your vehicle has one, it is in good condition and has a jack. If your vehicle does not have a spare tire, have a contingency plan if you have a flat. Always carry a small toolbox with pliers, screwdrivers, duct tape, hammers, tire gauges, and wrenches.

Cold Weather Items to Pack

You can’t go wrong packing extra blankets and hand warmers. If there are any issues along the way or it turns freezing, they will be greatly appreciated. Always pack ice scrapers and even snow shovels depending on the anticipated cold weather environment.

Personal Safety Aids

Depending on the destination, pack insect repellents and sun protection products. And for all destinations, packet a small first aid kit. Other necessities to pack are fire extinguishers, pepper spray, medications, and medical supplies. In a roadside emergency, carry a couple of reflective triangles for alerting traffic. And on a family road trip, there is always a need to pack plenty of water and non-perishable food supplies. Packing a few kitchen-size trash bags keeps the vehicle’s environment clean and comfy.


A family road trip is a wonderful way to bond while spending quality time together. What you don’t want is to have any issues with the vehicle or be on your way to remember you forgot your cell phone. Maybe you brought your cell phone and forgot the charge because you didn’t think it necessary to make a list. By creating a detailed list of all the topics covered in this article, you should never forget that one thing you need.

We hope this article has given you some ideas on how to plan for the next family road trip and have an excellent time. So when you begin the trip, all that you have to worry about is getting your family vehicle’s new wax job dirty. Get ready to have the best family trip ever!

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