Summer is here and it is time to get ready for that road trip that has been months or even years in the making. You already have a great destination and summer activities in mind, but what about the other things that make for a better road trip experience? Here’s a few road trip tips that we think make for a smoother, more enjoyable trip this summer.
Good Floor Mats
A strong defense is the best way to combat road trip crud. That’s where a good set of all-weather floor mats pays off. While factory floor mats are fine, a set of molded heavy-duty rubber or plastic floor mats not only looks great but adds top tier defense against dirt, mud, sand, and spills. Installation takes minutes for vehicle specific floor mats, or a little longer if you choose custom fit floor mats that require trimming. Regardless of which ones you choose, you can’t beat the ease of floor cleanup that comes with a quick rinse, shake off or vacuum.
Device Charging Options
Cell phones, tablets, laptops, portable gaming devices and more will likely need to be recharged on the road at some point. While the electric car cigarette lighter has mostly gone away, the round 12v power outlet it gave us lives on in most vehicles. A simple USB charger can be had cheaply and fits easily into a 12v power outlet. But you can up your game with a higher output USB fast charger, or even a charger with multiple USB outlets. For the next level in mobile power the answer is an inverter to plug in 110v devices. There are simple inverters that plug into an existing 12v power outlet, all the way up to heavier duty inverters that are hard-wired into your vehicle’s electrical system. Once you have the charging power sources figured out, make sure to throw in a few extra charging cables. Get a few different lengths of charging cables to make sure power gets to where it needs to go without causing clutter. Maybe even designate a few cables as “vehicle only” so they don’t walk off once you reach your destination.
We hope you never have to use the footage from your dash cam, but if you ever do need it you will be glad it is there to tell the unbiased story. Dash cams are very reasonably priced and available in a variety of designs. Mounting options can be as simple or complex as you like. Most can be set to turn on automatically when you start the vehicle, so there’s nothing to remember. Others can be set to start recording if there is any sudden movement even when the vehicle is off. You don’t want the dash cam to interfere with your view out of the windshield, so take some time to identify possible mounting locations then find a camera that matches your space. You can also find apps that turn your smartphone into a dash cam. Just be mindful of where the phone will be securely mounted and if it will need a charging cord to keep you from draining the battery.
A world of entertainment is at your fingertips in a modern cell phone. If you have a fairly new vehicle then there is probably already a USB input or Bluetooth connection that lets you stream audio straight into your stereo. But older vehicle owners have options too. There are still cassette adapters that plug into your phone’s ⅛” audio jack. Or your car may already have a ⅛” audio auxiliary input jack. If neither of those are an option, there is always a FM modulator. Spend a little time setting up a road trip playlist with music, podcasts, or even a few audio books. You’ll be shocked at how fast the miles fly away!
You don’t need to pack a whole tool box for the road, but a few well chosen emergency tools can be extremely helpful on the road. For compact utility it is hard to beat a folding multitool. You get pliers, a knife, screwdrivers, and more all in a tiny package that fits in the glovebox or console. A set of jumper cables can be easily stowed, but you can also step up to a portable jump box that does not rely on a second vehicle. Some portable jump boxes are complete emergency stations complete with air compressor, USB charging ports, even a light. A roll of duct tape can be infinitely useful.
Finally, don’t hit the road without a good vehicle inspection. Go ahead and get that oil change done. Check the air in all the tires even if the TPMS warning isn’t on, if anything just to make sure the pressures are all the same. It is probably time for new windshield wipers, so swap those out. Give the windshield a good cleaning and consider giving it a water repellent coating for extra measure. Brakes need to be in tip-top condition so make sure you have plenty of friction material left and that brake discs/drums are within thickness spec. If you are short on time you can always head to your local NAPA AutoCare center where their experts can give your vehicle a thorough pre-trip inspection.
Following these tips will help ensure your summer road trip adventure is a great one. So fuel up, grab some road trip snacks and have a fun, safe time!
Check out all the maintenance parts available on NAPA Online or trust one of our 17,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on summer road trip tips, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.
Photo courtesy of pxhere.
With an automotive writing career spanning over two decades, Brian has a passion for sharing the automotive lifestyle. An avid DIYer he can usually be found working on one of his many project cars. His current collection includes a 1969 Olds Delta 88 convertible and a slant-6 powered 1975 Plymouth Duster.