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Here’s How To Save Time And Money While Preparing For A Road Trip

 “Are we there yet?” It’s a familiar refrain on road trips, from passengers young and old (well, mostly young, as it’s kids that often voice their boredom repeatedly when traveling too long on the open road).

But looking ahead after a yearlong COVID pandemic,  ‘Are we there yet?’ can just as easily apply to whether we’re at a point where we can vacation again, gather again, enjoy new sights and sounds again. While air travel may still be down in terms of vacationing, road trips have enjoyed a resurgence. This type of vacation makes for easy, or limited, mask wearing (at least while you’re in the car), traveling in small groups, and availing yourself of new scenery and fresh air as an antidote to months and months of being boxed in.

Here are some tips to ensure that your road trip is nothing short of a pathway to happiness.

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Don’t have a car? Or have a car that’s too old to make the journey safely? Renting a car might be a good option for you.

It might surprise you to know that renting a car could cost less than what it would cost to take your own vehicle. According to Hertz and the IRS, a 2,000-mile trip will cost about $1,070 in gasoline as well as car wear and tear and maintenance. According to Hertz, the cost of renting a car for a 2,000-mile road trip over 10 days at a rental rate of $35 per day will cost a total of $350. Add $200 for gasoline (at about $2.50 per gallon minimum), and your rental total comes to $550. Always ask about any additional rental fees before you sign on the rental dotted line, and check to see if your car insurance covers car rentals in the event of an accident.

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You might be covering a lot of miles on your road trip, so you’ll want to make sure your car insurance coverage is up to speed.

Check with your insurance provider to determine if you have the right coverage, especially if you’ll be crossing state lines. Some states might have higher limited liability terms; you may want to extend your coverage just for the extent of the trip.

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Roadside assistance is available through a service such as AAA or your auto insurance provider.

A tire goes flat. The gas gauge reads ‘empty’ when you’re on a deserted road. That loud clunking noise you’ve been listening to for the last four miles suddenly stops – but so does the car. Anything can happen on a road trip, and you’ll want to be prepared for worst-case scenarios. Roadside assistance can give you peace of mind and get you up and running so you don’t miss out on any valuable vacation time.

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Unless your car is brand spanking new, consider getting a tune-up before heading out for what you hope will be a stress-free road trip.

Ask your mechanic to complete the following:

  • Review the diagnostic codes
  • Inspect the battery
  • Check tire pressure and treads
  • Check motor oil
  • Fill window washer fluid
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You’ll want to make sure you head off in the right direction – and stay on course.

Installing a cell phone holder in your car means you won’t need to look down at your phone to get  directions or check out a map, which minimizes the danger of distracted driving. In addition, installing Bluetooth will allow you to play podcasts or take phone calls through your car’s speakers.

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You don’t want to waste a minute of your vacation being hangry. Stocking up on supplies before you leave the house can prevent a road trip from going downhill, fast.

Don’t forget to bring:

  • Cooler
  • Snacks and water
  • Masks and antibacterial wipes
  • First-aid kit
  • Pillows and blankets
  • Activities and DVDs for kids
  • Dog or cat carrier
  • Pet food and bowls
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Cleaning your car before you hit the road isn’t essential, but it sure makes for a fresh start.

Add the following to your car maintenance to-do list:

  • Remove clutter from inside the car and trunk
  • Vacuum car interior
  • Install small trash containers and plastic bins to minimize clutter
  • Wash the car exterior yourself or bring it to a car wash facility