Picture this: You’ve just hit the road and you hear a thumping sound from one of your wheels and you realise you’ve got a flat tyre. You pop the boot and dig out your wrench, jack and spare tyre - which you then discover is also as flat as a pancake.
Sadly, this scenario is not all that uncommon. But the good news is that it can be avoided with a bit of forward planning. We want to make sure all your journeys start and finish in the best way, so here’s our pick of the five things to tick off your list before you hit the road.
- A road ready vehicle
At the top of the list is to make sure you have a car that’s ship-shape for the road ahead. Taking 10 minutes to run through this checklist (and addressing anything that doesn’t get a tick) could be the difference between having a smooth drive and having to call for a tow.
- Check your oil and radiator coolant.
- Make sure all your tyres are inflated to the manufacturer’s specified pressure and they have adequate tread – that includes the spare wheel.
- Clean your windscreen and make sure the wipers and washers are operating and cleaning properly.
- Make sure all your lights and indicators are working.
- If you’re towing a caravan or trailer, make sure you check the chains and coupling and secure any awnings and doors.
- Check you have roadside assistance cover.
- Consider a service and safety check prior to setting off.
- Take a spare car key with you in case you lose one.
- Pack your essentials
As any holiday over-packer will tell you, it’s great to have options – but five pairs of shoes aren’t the type of essential we’re talking about. A road trip calls for a few specific items that you want to be sure are on your ‘must-pack’ list.
- A good torch – it can be extremely useful in poor lighting. It will give you enough light to change a tyre or to loo under the bonnet.
- First aid kit – a basic first aid kit should include band-aids, a gauze or compression bandage, antiseptic cream and antibacterial wipes for any bumps or scrapes.
- Phone charger – so you can stay connected and take photos along the way.
- Fresh drinking water – it’s a good idea to have a bottle of water with you to stay hydrated and alert.
- Create the perfect soundtrack
Nothing can make or break the mood like music, so take the time to create a few playlists to create your soundtrack. Think ‘evening chill’ or ‘freeway classics’ everyone can sing along to.
And here’s another tip, if your chosen app allows you to, download your playlists so they’re always available to you on your device, even if you find yourself out of mobile range where you won’t be able to stream. (The ABC has put together a great list for parents with younger kids.)
- Peace of mind
When you’re away from home you want the reassurance that comes with knowing you’re protected. NRMA home buildings and contents insurance covers your home whether you’re there or not, even if you forget to lock up when you leave. And when you’re away from home, it’s good to know your NRMA Comprehensive Car insurance covers your car in an accident, plus other cars and property if it's your fault.
Nobody wants to be a worst-case scenario, even if it does make for a good story down the track. With a little forward planning you can enjoy every car trip safely.