With the summer season in full swing many people are planning road trips on vacation to interesting destinations. But before you pull out of your driveway and hit the road, there are a few things you should have in order.
"The first step in planning a road trip is to make sure your car is serviced," said Ruth Nagy, director of travel operations for AAA East Central, based in Pittsburgh. "It's always good to check your fluids in your car. Make sure that your tires are properly inflated, because if your tires are over or under inflated that will affect the efficiency of your gas mileage. You want to keep your tires properly inflated according to your car's manufacturer's recommendations for air pressure in tires."
According to Dan Calko, service manager for Curtlanders Truck and Auto Repair in Mineral Ridge, proper tire inflation is something that travelers should not ignore.
Good music or talk radio and some magazines to pass the time are essential for passengers during a long road trip. Photo special to the Tribune Chronicle
"Tire pressure impacts your fuel and safety. If you over-inflate your tires, it can increase a threadbare quality in the tires. If you under-inflate, it could lower your fuel economy and it could build up heat in the tire and that can lead to a blowout."
Not sure what's the right pressure for your tires?
"The recommendation for your car's tire inflation is either on the door of your driver's side or on the door jamb of your driver's side," Calko said.
Giving your car that good once- over checkup is an essential task when preparing for a road trip. Calko said that it's important to check your car's belts, fluids, hoses, tires, brakes and oil.
"It's important to give your car a once-over before you head out," Calko said. "The common mistake drivers sometimes make is that they do not get their car checked and they just head out and assume everything is OK. With your car, you should always have a checklist such as 'when is the last time I got my battery checked? Or the last time I checked my tire pressure, and belts?'"
But if your own car isn't up to snuff, there are other alternatives.
"A lot of people like to rent a car because it gives them an opportunity to rent something that is more fuel efficient," Nagy said.
Packing is obviously an issue to think about when you are embarking on that voyage out on the open road. When it comes to packing, it's always important to pack the items that are necessities and to streamline those extra items.
Myke Rosati of Youngstown and member of the punk band Johnie 3, is no stranger to road trips. It's a regular regimen when you play in a touring band. Johnie 3 has toured throughout the United States and Canada, as well as Europe.
"Travel with the least amount of luggage as possible," Rosati said. "In that way, it isn't as hard to keep track of everything and is less for you to carry."
"With packing, especially if you have children, you want to make sure that you have things to keep children entertained," Nagy said. "You don't want to overload your vehicle, because that could have mechanical repercussions on the car. Over-packing can affect gas mileage and wear and tear on your tires. Be careful that you do not over-pack."
Even adult passengers need snacks and entertainment on a long trip. Mark Peyko of Youngstown gives some tips on how to make the trip more enjoyable and cost conscious.
"Pack a cooler full of foods that travel well," he said. "Bring along a few gallons of spring water. Make fried chicken and potato salad. Take a bunch of change for tolls. Bring along paper plates, plasticware, cups, and a roll of paper toweling. Take enough music so that you don't repeat anything during the trip. Listen to local radio, if it's listenable. Find some distant AM stations at night. Give yourself time to explore on the way down. Pack a mini-first aid kit, including aspirin."
Jimmy Martin of Warren also offers some advice for taking a road trip.
"We always print out directions on paper, just for backup," he said. "Burning a good mix CD or playlists for your device is also great and super awesome if you can put some podcast episodes on the playlist. If you have a few episodes of the Chicago Public Media's radio broadcast 'This American Life' or NPR's 'Sound Opinion,' it will make a 10-hour drive seem like a five-hour drive. I also recommend a can or a container of some sort that you can empty your pocket change into at the end of every day. You would be surprised how quick that adds up for tolls, snacks and gas."