Preparing Your Car for an Epic Road Trip

Do you ever feel like going on an epic road trip with camping and hiking, like you can feel it in your soul, you need to have this experience, but as a mature female traveling alone, you just don’t know how to get there??

I definitely have, and that’s why I created this series of blog posts about how I prepared for an epic, 6,700-mile road trip where I felt safe and comfortable by myself the whole way and had the experience I had been dreaming of for so long.

I want you to know that you’re definitely not the only one feeling like they need to do this, but don’t know enough about planning solo road trips or about cars to make sure that you’ll have a fun journey.

For years, I felt like I was missing out, like there were so many experiences I wanted to have and things I wanted to see, but I just didn’t have the resources, security, or the knowledge to do something so big.

This year, I fixed up my 9-year-old minivan and went on a trip that was beyond my wildest dreams!  For the first time in my life, I was fully present experiencing the beauty of our country, the joy of camping and hiking in the great outdoors, and the security of a well-laid plan.

I traveled by car along the southern route from northern Virginia to the Grand Canyon’s South Rim, then continued north through all five National Parks in Utah, headed east through a couple of National Parks in Colorado, and onto the northern route home, through northeast Ohio to visit family, and then back to northern Virginia. Your route may differ, but your preparation should be mostly the same, and you can learn the best way to do it, right here.

As a mature female traveling alone, I felt the need for security. The most important thing to ensure my security was that I had reliable and comfortable transportation for the long days, and sometimes nights, on the road.

So, how did I do it without knowing a whole lot about car maintenance? This blog post is all about how I prepared my minivan for my epic road trip.

My big secret for getting my car ready without a whole lot of car knowledge is that I followed this interactive checklist and used the Upkeepr app to keep me organized and check off the things on my “road-trip-ready-car-prep” to do list. The checklist divides vehicle preparation into five main sections that are all necessary to ensure the greatest comfort and security:

Download The Ultimate Road-trip-ready Car Checklist

  • Mechanical Reliability
  • Safety Components
  • Exterior Cleanliness
  • Interior Cleanliness
  • Organization

Once I followed this checklist to ensure the safety and comfort of my vehicle, something unexpected happened… I fell in love with my minivan all over again! It was so comfortable and had such a smooth ride that I looked forward to the time I spent in it. My journey became my goal every day as I listened to my playlist, shared photos with friends, lay down for a cat nap in the back, or connected to a Zoom call for a meeting with my work colleagues. I loved my destinations too, but I can’t help but think that my joy was increased exponentially while spending all that travel time in a vehicle that I loved.

Mechanical reliability

Since I don’t know a whole lot about car maintenance, I have a reliable car mechanic who is worth his weight in gold. I met Hamed by accident a few years ago. My car was having a problem, so I called around for a last-minute appointment. I ended up at the wrong car repair shop because the business names were similar, so I had no appointment when I got there. But, Hamed ran a small, family-owned shop and asked how he could help me, since I was already there with a friend who would drive me home. Hamed was knowledgeable since he personally owned a Honda Odyssey like mine, so, I left my vehicle with him. He wasn’t the cheapest, but he was fair and honest, prompt, and highly competent, doing exceptionally good work. It was the best decision ever for my car and I’ve never looked back.

Together we walked through the items on my checklist. Hamed checked my brakes, fluids, belts, all the things. He had his checklist, too. He noticed the power steering fluid was dangerously low. I had a small leak. Since I didn’t want to drop a bunch of cash on a big repair before my trip, he told me I should be fine with a $14 bottle of power steering fluid until I got back and could have the repair done. On my trip, I occasionally checked the fluid level and only had to top it off once.

Safety components

The safety components on the checklist were easy to do myself. My tires are relatively new, so my tire tread was good; all lights (indoor and out) functioned well; and I equipped my car with jumper cables, a functional spare tire, an emergency kit, and a gas can – just in case. The checklist was chock-full of safety items which ensured that I had what I needed to travel solo and stay safe. I felt completely at ease.

Cleaning

This was the most time consuming for me, but surprisingly, the most enjoyable reward of my efforts to get my car road-trip-ready. I was able to create a luxurious interior that made for a comfortable driving experience. I cleaned up my leather seats, put Rain-X on my windows (because I love that!), and added convenient accessories that made it fun to be in.

I could have taken my car to the car wash, but I saved myself a lot of money doing it myself and had the satisfaction of a job well done.

Organizing

Finally, my glove box was clean and I could find my registration! Years of important car maintenance receipts were captured and stored in Upkeepr. I finally know what the mechanical status of my vehicle is. I don’t fear that it will break down while I’m on the highway. I can slowly save money to replace the tires when they’re worn. No big surprises, like “you need a new transmission”! Upkeepr gives me the peace of mind I need to feel safe in my vehicle and prepared for expenditures. I’ll be taking many more trips in this van!

Download The Ultimate Road-trip-ready Car ChecklistDon’t know what to do on your car? You can get your car ready, too, and experience the safety of a reliable vehicle for your trip by downloading the interactive checklist and getting started. I’m not going to lie, it takes some effort to get things done, so if you want the motivation of a 10-day Road Trip Ready Car Challenge, then sign up with the rest of the group for a unique experience. The result is priceless… peaceful, stress-free, road travel.

The Road Ahead

I thought of some other safety measures, besides car safety, that would help. I’ll cover those in another blog post where I discuss the importance of following the plan, being seen by other people, respecting wildlife, knowing self-defense tactics, and keeping in shape.

I’ve thought about writing an e-book about my journey with the tools I used to plan it, my strategies to keep safe while traveling solo, the budget I created, and pictures of the trip. If you’d be interested in my e-book, click here to leave me your contact information.