Cross-country trips can be an incredible experience. But the truth is that you don’t pack for a road trip the same way you prepare for a life-changing move with all your worldly belongings to a new location. When there’s a specific destination and timeline in place — and a whole household of items to unpack — a long, leisurely road trip is probably best saved for another time.
In any case, be sure you know what you’re getting into. Here’s a list of some common hazards you’re likely to encounter on an extended road trip — and tips that can help you prepare for a high-mile journey.
High-Mile Hazard No. 1: Unpredictable Expenses
There’s something magical about the idea of driving a long distance. You imagine cruising down a long stretch of road in a picturesque countryside, your favorite tunes blasting from the speakers. But you might want to save that road trip fantasy for a time when you’re not going to whimper whenever you stop to refill the tank. Don’t forget — those painful gas prices are on top of the other significant expenses of a long drive, including stopping for meals, staying at hotels, and taking time off work. Keep in mind, too, that cars do break down sometimes, and it’s rarely convenient.
If you’ll be driving your car on a long road trip, be sure you’ve got emergency roadside assistance (like AAA insurance). Knowing how to handle common problems, like changing a flat tire and jumping a dead battery, can come in handy, too. Here are 11 more skills that can help. Before you go, stop by an auto parts store for serpentine belts, coolant, and motor oil. These are all relatively inexpensive, easy to throw in the trunk, and could keep you from being stranded on the side of the road in the event of a common break.