Summer road trip tips

There are few experiences more liberating than taking a road trip, and this summer, road trips are Americans' vacation of choice. A recent survey conducted by Bridgestone showed that 75 percent of respondents choose to travel by car for their summer vacations, compared to 31 percent who prefer to take a plane and 7 percent who travel by train. Further, the survey showed Americans are willing to travel 80 miles farther on their road trips than they did last year.

Considering the fact that road trips are cheaper, more convenient and more flexible than other travel methods, it's no wonder summer vacationers are relying on their cars not only for transportation, but also for the opportunity to create memorable travel experiences on the way to their final destinations.

A stress-free road trip is a fun road trip. Here are five tips for planning a successful summer road trip:

1. Do a maintenance pre-check
Road trips are supposed to be leisurely, but no one wants to spend six hours at an auto repair shop in the middle of nowhere. The Car Care Council recommended the following pre-trip checklist to ensure your vehicle is ready to hit the road:

  • Make sure your brakes are in working order.
  • Check all fluids including antifreeze, windshield wiper fluid and oil.
  • Be sure that all hoses and belts are in working condition to avoid issues with the electrical system.
  • Ensure your car's gas cap is not damaged, loose or missing
  • Check your tires for tire pressure and tread. This is essential for a safe road trip!

    Remember, basic auto insurance plans do not cover maintenance failures. Being proactive about the maintenance of your car will help you save time and money on your trip.

    2. Plan ahead, but remain flexible
    There are certain circumstances you will need to plan ahead for during your road trip. Think about how many rest stops you will need to take, where the best gas stations are and some of the key attractions you'd like to visit. It is also helpful to coordinate with your co-travelers who will be driving and how often you will switch duties. One great way to plan ahead is to agree on a route to your final destination, but have a backup route prepared in case you encounter road closures or traffic.

    While planning ahead for many details can lead to a successful road trip, too much planning can ruin the fun. Leave room for spontaneity. It may even be a good idea to leave a day early to accommodate last minute stops and activities. Road trips are supposed to be fun, so don't let too much planning constrict you!

    3. Bring plenty of cash
    It is extremely important to bring cash with you on your road trip. When you're traveling a long distance, you're likely going to pay a lot of tolls, and unless you have an electronic pass that works in all states, you'll need cash to pay. Having cash also helps with splitting gas, snacks and other costs with your co-travelers.

    More importantly, having cash can get you out of an emergency situation. For instance, your car could break down and the only auto repair shop nearby may only take cash. Make sure to store your emergency cash somewhere discreet in your car, and definitely don't rely on cash as your sole source of funds.

    4. Warn your bank in advance
    Crossing multiple state lines is bound to appear suspicious to any bank. The last thing you want holding you up on your vacation is a debit or credit card that doesn't work because your bank didn't know you'd be using your card during your road trip. Always call your bank before any vacation and let them know about your travel plans.

    5. Bring a spare key
    Losing your key or locking it inside of your vehicle is a recipe for a ruined road trip. Waiting on a locksmith to arrive at any possible hour of the day or night is sure to cause a major delay. Even worse, if you lose your key 300 miles from home, it is unlikely you're going to get someone to bring you your spare. Bring a spare key with you and keep it in your purse, wallet or backpack. Have someone traveling with you hold on to the key so both sets are with different people and never, ever leave your extra key in the car when you are not inside. The last thing you want on your road trip is a stolen car!

    Have a hassle-free road trip by following these five tips and visiting CoverHound's easy-to-use website to find an auto insurance plan that is right for you.

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