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Tips for Driving Cross Country

Its often fun and exciting to embark on a long cross country drive. The following tips for driving cross country will help ensure you’re fully prepared for the unexpected which can often have an impact on the journey.

We’re going to list these in a useful order so at all stages you’re prepared and ready to handle all upcoming situations along the way.

Check the car thoroughly

One of the first things to do is to run through your car checks before embarking on a long road trip.

If the trip’s likely to be 1000 miles plus, think about changing the engine oil and filters beforehand. This will not only lessen the chances of a breakdown but will also help to improve your MPG throughout the journey.

Checking tires, tire pressures, spare wheel, wheel jack and brakes will help ensure that you’re unlikely to get stranded or hit problems along the way.

If the car’s old or you suspect something’s at fault, it will pay to take it to a trusted mechanic for a check over.

A good mechanic will be able to quickly spot a problem and tell you if anything particular needs fixing before your journey.

Plan your Itinerary

Planning your route will be a great help and one of the important tips for driving cross country, as there’s always great places of interest for visiting along the way.

The scenic route gives so much more back than the odd turn on freeways and motorways for miles and miles. Depending on the reason for your trip, you may plan to split the drive into the 2 types of routes. Mileage coverage vs scenic, interest coverage.

Doing this you’ll often find ways around congested cities and town routes where you won’t want to become part of the rush hour traffic.

Wasted time can be cut right back by spending an evening planning the route and checking for closures or maintenance bottle necks. A good source for your route planning is something like Google Maps or Multimap which are able to provide high levels of detail.

Factor in some extra time to allow for stop offs and rest time at the places of interest and book up lodgings before you set off.

Purchasing a decent SatNav makes sense or one of the latest road atlases at a minimum is a must.

Adding break down cover to your insurance or purchasing direct is definitely worthwhile. With somewhere like AAA you’ll probably also get lodging discounts at various places with your membership.

Weather conditions will also play a big part in your journey satisfaction, and one of the good tips for driving cross country is to pick the best times of year for a long road trip which can make all the difference.

Tips for Driving Cross Country

From the driving and vehicles aspect often spring time or fall months are best. The weather is usually quite mild and road conditions are pretty good. Avoiding winter snow and ice and the hottest summer months means less chance of breakdowns and accidents.

Plan to drive no more than about 10 hours in a day or 600 or so miles and make your stops every 1 – 4 hours max.

Useful packing Tips

The first here of these tips for driving cross country has to be not to pack too much! Make sure you empty your car completely before you start packing.

We all have things in our cars that we were meaning to deliver somewhere or just that we haven’t unloaded yet. You’ll save money because the heavier the load, the more fuel will be guzzled when driving.

Don’t forget snacks and drinks! It’s important to stay hydrated and keep your energy levels up so keep a cooler with these essentials within easy reach.

Remember spare change! You never know when you may need it for toll fees or pay phones. There will most likely be areas where your mobile/cell phone will have no signal at all and a pay phone can come in very handy. It won’t be so handy if you find you need change to make a five minute phone call, so be prepared!

It’s also a good idea to invest in a phone card. This will guarantee you have enough credit to make any calls you need to.

Remember your documentation! Keep your drivers license and insurance papers at close hand if you find yourself in the unfortunate position of having to produce them.

The unexpected along the way

One of the most important tips for driving cross country is to make sure you’ve packed the right things for emergencies and unexpected situations.

A small toolkit in addition to the wheel jack and brace may be of great use as may a good flashlight, spare car light bulbs and emergency car kit.

A first aid kit is never a bad idea as is carrying a couple of litres of water in the trunk. An extra bottle of windshield wiper fluid could also be invaluable.

Never leave it until the last minute to refuel. You should plan to stop and fill up as soon as the gas gauge reaches a quarter tank.

Remember – you can never be certain when the next filling station will appear. Having said that, it’s important to make sure you have a spare gallon of fuel in a separate fuel tank (secured with a stretch clip) at all times. This can save you a lot of trouble and a very long walk if you’ve forgotten to keep a check on the fuel gauge. Plus don’t forget to re-fill it at the next station if you find yourself using it.

Some very handy bits of kit to take are a foot pump and or something like fix a flat emergency tire repair system. These are inexpensive and can really get you out of a jam on a long cross country trip.

More important tips for driving cross country include taking a good cell/mobile phone and car charger, plenty of food, comfortable clothes like jogging bottoms rather than jeans which tend to cramp the crutch area.

A litre or more of the right top up oil is a good idea. Spare fan belts, particularly if traveling in winter or summer months, may just be needed. Even if you’re not handy with fixing engines, the repair garage or emergency breakdown service guy may not have the right part, which will mean waiting or traveling, probably where you don’t want to.

Pillows and blankets can be very important too. If you did end out stranded or just simply want to pull over to rest for a while, they can make all the difference to your comfort.

These tips for driving cross country should cover you for most situations. A decent set of sun glasses and some good music should round off the list and make for a good journey!