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The key to a great road trip is a great prep. Start by planning your route.
Install a vehicle navigation system to map the route and pinpoint gas stations and restaurants. Consider a cell phone GPS app.
Plan how far to travel each day and where to spend nights, and check weather and road conditions.
Have your vehicle tuned. Top off the oil, wiper fluid, brake fluid and transmission fluid.
Check all lights and replace windshield wiper blades. Also check belts and hoses. A spongy hose probably needs replacing.
Clean battery terminals with wire brush and mixture of baking soda and water.
Check tire treads for normal wear and along sides; uneven wear usually calls for alignment. Insert penny into tire tread with Lincoln’s head facing down; if you can see all of head, tire needs replacing.
Flush coolant and replace with 50/50 mix of coolant and water.
Fill up the gas tank. To save gas mileage, remove unnecessary weight from trunk.
Place a current copy of your car registration and insurance cards in the glove compartment. Include a roadside emergency kit containing a flashlight, first-aid kit, jumper cables, basic tool set, flares, washer fluid, a quart of oil and a gallon of coolant. In winter, pack a small shovel and a bag of kitty litter in case you get stuck in ice or snow.
Pack a cell phone/computer cord and charger that plugs into the vehicle's cigarette lighter.
Pack a laptop plus DVDs and CDs for passengers to watch, and pack plenty of DVDs and CDs to entertain passengers.