Are We There Yet? Use This Road Trip Checklist for Your Next Long Drive
Use these tips to help make your road trip as safe and responsible as possible.
If the road is calling, answer it and safely rediscover America this summer. Join the ranks of savvy road-trippers with our road trip planner—full of suggestions for before, during and after your road trip.
Vaccinations, masks, hand-washing, social distancing … safety is still something to prepare for before you head out on a road trip. You’ll find that a road trip isn’t quite the same as it was in 2019 and earlier.
To help you research your route destinations, AAA maintains a map that shows statewide restrictions. And be sure to keep up with the latest recommendations on domestic travel from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
A local AAA Travel Advisor is a valuable resource when planning your vacation to Rediscover America. They can provide the guidance you need to navigate the changing travel environment. They can also help you:
- Discover the destination that suits you best.
- Provide options on vacation styles for you to consider—fly and drive, drive to cruise, road trip warrior, guided tours, etc.
- Book vacation packages that include options like hotels and attraction tickets.
- Provide you with travel insurance options.
If you are a DIY road trip planner, AAA has plenty of digital resources to help:
- Search for—and book—hotels that offer savings to AAA Members. Pro tip: Use the “AAA Best of Housekeeping” filter to find hotels in the top 25% for cleanliness and condition, as part of the AAA Diamond Program.
- Choose your route and calculate the length of the drive with a digital AAA TripTik. Add route intervals and stops such as restaurants and hotels, or opt for more scenic roads, and then save and print your route.
- Go deeper in your research with our digital AAA TourBook guides, accessible from your phone, tablet and computer. The new interactive guides feature destination info, must-see attractions, sample itineraries and more.
- Budget for how much you can expect to pay for gasoline by using the AAA Gas Cost Calculator.
- A first-aid/emergency kit (something you hope you won’t need) provides a bonus—peace of mind. Assemble your own or buy a basic kit and supplement it with items such as reflectors or LED beacons, blankets and a few small pillows, a weather radio, an LED flashlight, a basic tool kit, duct tape, heat-resistant work gloves, first-aid supplies, drinking water and nonperishable snacks for people and pets, a poncho, and extra batteries for electronics that use them.
- These days, it’s a good idea to pack disposable face masks, hand sanitizer, antibacterial wipes (for surfaces and skin), and paper towels. Make a dedicated, easily accessible kit to save yourself time and effort during your travels. If you haven’t already downloaded the AAA Mobile app to your smartphone, visit AAA.com/Mobile to get it. The app includes local COVID-19 restrictions to help you know what to expect along the way. Here are more reasons AAA Mobile is the perfect road trip partner.
- If you’re packing footwear and want to save room in your bags, shoes offer protective unused space that’s perfect for transporting jewelry, eyeglasses, socks, belts and even cellphone chargers.
- A paper map of your route is helpful in case your GPS falters. A printed TripTik can be ordered online (allow two weeks for mail delivery).
You’ll only get as far as your imagination vehicle takes you. Visit your nearby AAA Approved Auto Repair facility to make sure your vehicle is ready for the road (and to take advantage of the many member benefits and savings). Have your vehicle’s major components and systems thoroughly checked before you head out of town: tires; brakes; battery; engine oil; radiator; wiper blades and windshield washer fluid; belts, hoses and filters; and air conditioning. (A free vehicle maintenance inspection is offered upon request, a $50 value for members)
Save wear and tear on your vehicle—and save money with AAA—when you rent a car for your next road trip. With more than 3,000 off-airport locations, there is likely a Hertz location near you, with vehicles that meet the Hertz Gold Standard Clean to address concerns about safety and cleanliness.
- If you lose your wallet, should you continue your trip? Generally speaking, yes. But take the time to obtain temporary proof of your driver’s license from your state’s DMV. And with ProtectMyID Essential (a $49 value, free for members at AAA.com/ProtectMyID), the Lost Wallet Protection feature lets you cancel and replace credit, debit and medical cards—and more—with one call.
- What if you lock your keys in the car? Your AAA Membership has it covered with access to 24-hour locksmith services.
- Dead battery? Text the word “help” to 800-222-1134 to initiate a road service request. An automated system will guide you through a simple step-by-step process so AAA Mobile Car Battery Service can come to assist you.
And if your vehicle needs service while you’re on your trip, AAA.com/AutoRepair gives you access to a network of AAA Approved Auto Repair facilities across the nation. Members receive discounts and an extended warranty on parts and labor.
No advice here—just a reminder to not forget the most important part of your road trip.
Treat your ride to a detailed cleanup inside and a thorough washing outside to banish the crud and general grime that builds up in and on a car during a long trip. Then, if it’s been more than six months since you last did so, apply a high-quality automotive wax to protect and beautify the finish. Finally, ask the same shop that did the pre-trip check to give your vehicle another look to be sure no problems have developed during your trip. At the very least, an oil change may be in order after driving all those miles in the summer heat.