The day has come! You’re about to hit the road. Maybe you’re about to take a weekend road trip, or it’s the first day of the rest of your life as a nomad. Maybe you’ve been sitting on public land for two weeks and now it’s time to travel to your next boondocking spot. Whatever the reason that you’re about to start driving, here’s a list of 10 things you should do, check, and take care of before you get on the road.
#1 Pack supplies you may need if your rig breaks down. Road disasters happen. Be prepared with roadside flares, a flashlight, jumper cables, an appropriate jack, a can of tire sealant/aerosol tire inflator (made by Fix-a-Flat and Slime, among others), a portable air compressor, and any other emergency supplies you can imagine needing. I know what it’s like to have three flat tires between two vehicles and no emergency supplies while camping on remote BLM land. I’ve encountered people with a dead battery and no jumper cables. Do everything you can to prepare for anything that might go wrong.
#2 Check your spare tire. One of the problems during the aforementioned tire disaster was that we couldn’t get my spare tire off its mount. The bolt holding the tire to the mount was cross-threaded and wouldn’t budge. It was like having no spare at all! Check your spare periodically to make sure it’s in good condition and can be removed from your mount if necessary.
#3 Stock up on supplies. Especially if you’re going to a remote location,
have enough food and water to last you until you to return to civilization. Get ice if you’re using a cooler for refrigeration. If you take medication, make sure you won’t run out before you get to a pharmacy. Take inventory of your first aid kit and replenish anything that’s missing so you can take care of any minor emergencies. Other items you may need may include sunscreen, toilet paper, paper towels, garbage bags, soap, toothpaste, batteries, insect repellent, propane or butane, and fire starter.
Price is another reason to stock up before you leave a heavily populated area. As I suggested in my post “How to Save Money While Visiting Tourist Attractions,” supplies are going to cost more in remote locations. Avoid paying gift shop and small-town prices if you can.
#4 Consult your paper map and plan your route. As I wrote in my post “In Praise of Paper Maps,” don’t put all your trust in your GPS. Using GPS is fine, but look at your route on a paper map so you’ll know if the GPS is sending you off in the wrong direction. It’s also a good idea to have an appropriate map handy and the skills to use it in the event you lose signal or your GPS stops working in a remote location.
#5 Check the air pressure in your tires. Proper air pressure increases gas mileage and helps protect against flat tires. If the air pressure is low in your tires, use your portable air compressor (if you have one) to add air, or fill up low tires at your next gas station stop.
#6 Check your levels of oil, radiator fluid, brake fluid, and windshield washer fluid. If any fluids are low, top them off.
#7 Plug in your electronics before you pull out of your parking spot. If you have an invertor, plug in your phone and or tablet so you can charge while you drive.
#8 Top off your rig’s fuel tank. Before you leave civilization, make sure
your fuel tank is full, especially if you’re heading to a remote location where you might not be able to find fuel. When you come out of a remote location, fill your tank as soon as it’s feasible, especially if you’re heading to another remote location. My goal is to never let my fuel gauge slip below a quarter of a tank, which means I should never run out of gas. Running out of gas could lead to needing a tow and/or a destroyed fuel tank, two things I want to avoid.
Again, price is another reason to fuel up before you leave civilization or once you return. You will probably find better prices on fuel for your rig if you buy it in a place where several gas stations compete for business. If you can even find fuel in the middle of nowhere, you’re going to pay more for it.
#9 Clean your windshield while you’re at the gas station. Trying to see through a dusty, bug-splattered windshield is not just annoying; it could be dangerous too.
#10 Once your engine has warmed up, check the level of your transmission fluid. Park on a level surface before you check. Shift through all your gears before you pull out your dipstick, and leave your rig running while you do your check. If the level is low, top off with the fluid that’s right for your transmission.
These tips are just suggestions. Please remember that Blaize Sun is not responsible for your safety and well-being. Only YOU are responsible for your safety and well-being.
Images courtesy of https://www.pexels.com/photo/brown-spoke-car-wheel-in-brown-sand-during-daytime-53161/, https://www.pexels.com/photo/asphalt-box-color-emergency-208459/, https://www.pexels.com/photo/map-navigation-guide-108942/, and https://www.pexels.com/photo/car-refill-transportation-gas-9796/.
great list! yes these are important. i make a packing list before a trip and keep old packing lists for previous trips on my computer which helps me not forget anything because i base the current list on the previous list. also included is a mini to do list which might include stopping by the place we get our oil changed for their free top off service so they check our vehicle’s fluids and going to the post office to send anything that needs weighing before we leave town. if i know we might lose cellphone reception as we approach our destination i like to take a screenshot of the last bit of our trip directions to consult as i’m pretty bad at reading paper maps and the phone directions are better than nothing. also on the to do list is to ask someone we live with to water favorite plants while we’re gone. trips can be exciting and preparation can be part of the fun with anticipation and i enjoy making lists and thinking ahead.
Thanks for all these good ideas! I know you are a seasoned traveler, so I appreciate your input!
o also i like to share itinerary with someone namely my mom so she knows any addresses and arrival departure times. then if we disappeared maybe we could be found? not sure how likely this is but i enjoy talking with her and checking in so it’s a pleasure. 🙂
Good tip! Thanks for sharing.
I do that too. If I’m traveling to visit particular a particular person, I share my plans with them. If I’m just traveling in general, I share my plans w9th one particular friend. I agree with you that if I disappear, having someone know my plans may help someone find me.