A road trip is one of the best ways to vacation across the country. It gives you the opportunity to go at your own pace and soak up the local culture. You make memories with family and friends while maintaining control over your vacation experience.

But even though you have more control over where you go and how you get there, you can’t control every situation. You may find yourself in unexpected situations along your road trip that you didn’t prepare for.

So it’s time to prepare.

This guide will help you expect the unexpected for the ultimate safe and fun summer road trip. Planning ahead can help avoid mishaps and save money while you make unforgettable memories.

1. Keep an emergency kit.

A car emergency kit can save you in a time of crisis. Imagine a situation: your tire blows out, you don’t have cell reception, and you’re on a desert road in a new state. How do you get help? Or someone in your car gets a cut that won’t stop bleeding, but you don’t have access to any health services.

These seem like they might be farfetched situations, but they actually happen all too frequently. They’re especially common on long summer road trips across state lines, when people are less familiar with the roads and weather.

An emergency kit can keep you safe in unexpected circumstances. Your emergency kit should include:

  • Cell phone charger
  • Flashlight
  • Water bottles
  • Non-perishable food
  • Alcohol swabs
  • Band-Aids
  • Updated maps and GPS
  • Multi-purpose tool
  • Rag or towel
  • Jumper cables
  • Coolant
  • Oil
  • Duct tape
  • Spare tire

2. Get your car inspected.

Before going on a road trip, take your car to the mechanic for an inspection and check-up. This makes sure your car is in tip-top shape, which can help minimize risk of car malfunctions on the road.

For a summer road trip, you especially want to check tires, cooling system, and AC.


Heat can cause tire pressure to rise. Driving on the highway can raise your tire pressure 5-10 psi from when you checked it at home.

You want to make sure you have the correct tire pressure for a smooth, safe ride. Overinflating your tires can cause them to explode. Underinflating your tires can cause them to wear out or blowout. Plus, properly inflated tires can increase gas mileage.

Don’t follow the tire pressure on the tire itself. You want to go by the tire pressure provided by the vehicle’s manufacturer. You can find this on the driver-side door, glove-box door, or in the car manual. This will tell you how your tires should be inflated to properly interact with the car.

You’ll also want to take a look at your tire tread. If any areas of your tires are worn out, you may need new tires or realignment. 

Cooling system

The cooling system is different than the AC. The cooling system is what keeps your engine and other car parts from melting. You’ll want a professional mechanic to check this out before your trip, especially if you haven’t had an inspection in awhile. They’ll check the radiator core, belts, hoses, coolant levels, thermostat, water pump, cooling fan, and heater core.

Note: Always keep extra coolant in the car. If your car starts to heat up on the road trip, you can fill the coolant yourself to make sure the cooling system is still functioning.

Air conditioner

Your AC should be blowing cold. Not only will this make sure you are comfortable while driving, but the AC belt is also what powers your car’s water pump and alternator. If your AC is broken, it could mean the belt or compressor has stopped working, which could cause serious problems in your car.

Go to a mechanic if your AC has stopped working. They’ll either need to fill the fluid or fix the AC belt so you can hit the road again.

P.S. You might want to install a security system on your car if it doesn’t already have one. This is a great way to keep your car safe while parked, especially at night.

Check out our article Springtime Tune-Up Tips For Your Car And Auto Insurance for a deeper dive into seasonal checkups.

3. Know how to fix your car.

There are some manual fixes that you should know in case you run into a situation on the road. Everyone should know how to change a tire and refill oil and coolant in case of an emergency.

Did you know that there are 7 tire punctures every second, resulting in 220 million flat tires annually? Keep a spare tire in the back of your car. A lot of people don’t carry a spare during their daily life, but it’s critical for a long road trip into uncharted territory. Purchase a jack and spare to fit in your car easily.

You may also want to check the air pressure in your tires frequently throughout the trip. Most gas stations have an air pressure gauge you can use for a small fee. This makes sure that your tires aren’t on their way to a malfunction and also that you’re getting the best mileage during your trip.

4. Don’t text and drive.

According to reports, 1 in 4 car accidents in the U.S. is caused by texting. 1.6 million crashes annually occur from phone use while driving, and 390,000 of these are specific to texting. In fact, texting and driving is 6x more likely to cause an accident than even driving drunk.

Put your phone away where you can’t reach it. Don’t pick it up until you’re at a rest stop. If you need to speak on the phone during the drive, use Bluetooth or your car’s built-in speaker system.

5. Don’t drink and drive.

In 2016, 10,497 people died due to alcohol-impaired driving crashes. Drunk driving accounts for 28% of all traffic-related deaths.

Even if you don’t drink and drive, you need to be aware of other drivers on the road who may be drunk. Watch for swerving, erratic driving, and unexpected braking. If you suspect someone might be driving drunk, report it to the local police station. You want to save yourself and others from potentially serious and fatal accidents.

6. Get enough sleep.

Drowsy driving has frequently been likened to drunk driving. Studies show that being awake for 18 hours causes the brain to function like a person with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.05%, and being awake for 24 hours boosts that BAC to 0.10%.

In fact, drowsy driving is responsible for nearly 72,000 crashes, 44,000 injuries, and 800 deaths yearly.

Don’t drive consistently throughout the night or day without stopping to rest. Don’t forget to take road trip breaks to stretch your legs and get food. Get at least 8 hours of sleep nightly. If you’re driving with another person, switch off every few hours to let someone who is more refreshed drive. While they’re driving, take a nap.

Remember, if multiple parties will be driving while on the road trip, each driver needs to be insured separately.

7. Limit afternoon driving.

When road tripping, we have a tendency to try to pack in as much time on the road as possible to get to the next destination. However, it’s critical that you factor in driving “breaks” to refresh and recuperate.

Afternoon is the worst time to be on the road. It’s when the sun is hottest, which means your car is most likely to run into issues. It also means your AC and cooling system need to work harder, which uses up more gas (and gas money). Plus, there’s more traffic in the afternoons, so you could waste your time sitting in a highway parking lot rather than seeing new and exciting sites.

If possible, plan your trip activities during the afternoon. Organize your route so that you arrive at your next destination around noon, where you can spend the afternoon and early evening exploring the town. Then you can nap and hit the road again.

8. Take the road less traveled.

Everyone takes the highways. This means there’s more traffic and a greater chance of accidents. Especially on highways you don’t know, you need to be extra vigilant and aware.

We love hitting the scenic routes on a road trip. The longer route will give you the opportunity to see more scenery and local flair, and you’ll likely create more interesting memories.

9. Eat local and healthy.

When on a vacation road trip, you might not realize you’re hungry until you’re suddenly really hungry.  People often stop at the nearest rest stop to get fast food and get on the road again.

We recommend using dining as a time to get to know the local culture. Plan your drive so meal times are spent in cool towns, where you can hit up hot spots with unique food. These will be some of your favorite memories!

We also recommend eating healthy as much as possible, even if just when snacking. Eating junk food on the road seems like fun, until you have a stomachache and sugar crash. Bring a cooler with you so you have fresh fruit and healthy snacks on hand to give you the energy boost you need—without all the sugar. A sugar crash can be the same as drowsy driving!

10. Know the weather.

Prepare for the weather so you don’t drive through a dangerous storm or flood, which are more common in the rainy and hurricane season months of the summer.

Follow weather apps on your phone with local areas to stay abreast of weather changes. Since you don’t want to check your phone while you’re driving, don’t forget the good old-fashioned radio to check for the weather.

Read Driving Tips For Thunderstorms to learn more about how to protect yourself on the roads during the rainy season.

11. Tell someone your schedule.

Always let someone who isn’t on your trip know your agenda. This is a smart way to keep you safe. Create a check-in schedule with them, so they know when to worry if they don’t hear from you.

Anything can happen when you’re on a road trip. Having someone at home keeping an eye on you can make sure local authorities are alerted if you’re stranded or need help.

You should also make sure you write down your contacts’ names and cell phone numbers. If your phone dies and you need to use a gas station phone, you want the numbers to call friends, family, AAA, insurance, and emergency services.

12. Contact your insurance agent.

Let your insurance agent know your schedule too. They’ll make sure that you are fully covered to protect your car, belongings, and passengers as you hit the road.

Contact an InsuraMatch agent now to make sure your road trip is fully covered, so you can drive off into the sunset with peace of mind.

P.S. Don’t forget to wear your seat belt! Seat belts reduce the risk of injury from a crash by 50%.


Having a safe and fun road trip is a great way to gather memories for the rest of your life. Where are you road tripping this year?

Tag @InsuraMatch in your road trip pictures! We’re excited to see them!