Back to top

Encompass® Insurance Insights & Articles

Planning That Last-Minute Road Trip

Got a long weekend coming up? Are you longing to get away from the daily grind and see the sights? If you're considering taking advantage of time off and hitting the open road, you're not alone. A recent survey shows that four in ten Americans plan to take a trip within 100 miles of home in the future.

But before you head out on the highway, a bit of planning can save you time, money and hassle — all without stifling that spur-of-the-moment excitement and sense of discovery that a road trip offers.

Family packing their car for a trip.

Focus on Safety

While being spontaneous is fun, you'll appreciate being prepared. Ensure your car is in tip-top shape before pulling out of the driveway.

If you keep your car serviced regularly with oil changes, tune-ups, tire rotations, battery checks and other scheduled services, you're already most of the way there. A quick check-up of the following will help facilitate a safe drive:

  • Brake function
  • Battery and ignition systems
  • Air and fuel filters
  • Head and tail lights
  • Thermostat, heater, defroster and AC
  • Oil levels
  • Windshield wiper blades and fluid
  • Tire inflation levels

Take a few minutes to check for any recalls related to your car, as well. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) offers a free lookup tool that allows you to enter your car's VIN and check for safety recalls going back 15 years.

Pack an Emergency Kit

Even well-maintained cars can run into problems. Whether you face a mechanical issue or a long wait due to a blocked road, an emergency roadside kit is a must-have when dealing with the unexpected. The NHTSA recommends stocking your vehicle with the following items, no matter how far (or close) you are to home:

  • Jumper cables
  • First aid kit/medical supplies
  • Flares or reflective triangles and white flag
  • Tire pressure gauge
  • Spare tire and tire-changing supplies
  • Work gloves
  • Basic tool kit
  • Duct tape
  • Potable water and non-perishable food
  • Windshield fluid, antifreeze and oil
  • Blankets, coats and towels
  • Road atlas and maps

Given the current environment, it's also recommended to stock your car with hand sanitizer, face masks and disinfecting wipes.

Plan Your Route

Even if you're going to use your smart phone's navigation system or GPS, planning your route ahead of time makes sense, and may save you time and hassle.

Before you leave, check road conditions, weather forecasts and traffic conditions along your chosen route. If roadwork threatens to cause delays, you may want to take a different path. Plus, familiarizing yourself with a route (or printing out directions) beforehand will be a big help if you lose cell phone coverage along the way.

Letting other people know where you're going, the route you're taking, and when you plan to arrive can help keep you on track and add an extra level of safety to your trip. You can still be spontaneous while having a (loose) plan.

Get Going

Cleaning the car before you go may make the trip just that much more pleasant. After all, space is at a premium on road trips, and no one wants to ride alongside fast-food wrappers and crinkled receipts.

Downloading plenty of music, audiobooks and podcasts can make the less-scenic parts of the drive more pleasant, as well. Make sure your vehicle's registration, your auto insurance card, and your driver's license are with you as you go.

A road trip is a great way to explore our nation's beautiful byways and see all the U.S. has to offer. When planning a last-minute adventure, these simple tips can help ensure your time on the road is both safe and fun.

Family in the kitchen.

Cover home, auto & more.

Encompass Insurance offers protection for the things that matter most.

Find an agent

The general information contained in The Encompass Blog is provided as a courtesy, and is for informational and entertainment purposes only. The contents of this website are subject to periodic change without notice. Information provided on The Encompass Blog is not intended to replace official sources. Although attempts will be made to ensure that the information is accurate and timely, the information is presented "as is" and without warranties. Information contained on The Encompass Blog should not be mistaken for professional advice. Information contained herein should not be considered error-free and should not be used as the exclusive basis for decision-making. Use of website information is strictly voluntary and at the user's sole risk. We encourage you to obtain personal advice from qualified professionals when making decision regarding your specific situation.

Other resources linked from these pages are maintained by independent providers. The Encompass Blog does not monitor all linked resources and cannot guarantee their accuracy. Statements, views and opinions included in an independent provider's material are strictly those of the author(s). These views may not necessarily represent the opinions or policies of The Encompass Blog, the Encompass family of companies or its agents, officers or employees.

ECC Monitor: OK