In my part of the world, central Canada, this weekend celebrates the first of our precious, summer Long Weekends. Victoria Day weekend is a traditional time for planting annuals, opening cottages and generally getting out and about on bikes and in cars. So Canadians – Happy Victoria Day weekend!
If you are going to be using your car this summer for travel, whether long distance or short haul, now is a good time to organize your vehicle to ensure it is ready to hit the road when you are. Here is a short list to get you started:
- Ensure your vehicle is up to date with service. Are you up to date with all the recommended service for your vehicle, especially the safety-related items? Have your breaks been checked and/or serviced recently? How about the air conditioning and do your windows all work? Are all the fuses functional and lights/alerts working? Have you checked your tire pressure lately?
- Fill up the windshield fluid and keep a top up bottle handy. Keeping your windshield free of bugs, especially Friday and Sunday night driving to and from the cottage, is a safety strategy. Ensure your field of vision is clear and clean at all times.
- Keep your car clean to ensure all lights are clearly visible during the day or night. Car lights are another safety feature. With the dust and mud that often comes with cottage, off road or even highway driving, lights appear dim and are less visible. Ensure you can be seen at all times.
- Ensure your vehicle ownership and current insurance are available to you while you are travelling. Don’t make the mistake I did and end up with a $65 fine because the current insurance certificate is sitting at home in the filing cabinet.
- Clear the garbage and vacuum out winter debris. Nothing says road-trip-buzz-kill faster than jumping into a car and finding yourself stepping on last February’s disposable coffee cup or the kids fish snacks in the back seat. You could splurge on car detailing, stop by the service centre industrial vacuum or just pull out your own household vacuum and give your four-wheeled baby a good once over.
- Clean the inside of your windows. Heating and air conditioning in cars often leaves a film on the inside of the windows which can impact how well you see out, especially on a summer day driving into the sun.
- Install a garbage box/bag or other container. Since you’ve just cleaned out the vehicle, why not set it up to stay clean. Keeping a garbage bag in the car will go a long way to making your regular clean-out faster and easier not to mention keeping today’s disposable coffee cup away from your feet. Many automotive parts suppliers also carry garbage bins made especially for the rear seats. Maybe this is the year you invest in one for your back seat crowd.
- Check the date on your maps and update if necessary. Car maps are something we often take for granted – until you realize the road you are looking for wasn’t constructed when your map was printed. If you prefer the modern GPS technology, ensure yours is updated so it can find that same road you were looking for on the old map. Consider keeping a map in the car even if you have a GPS; technology does fail.
- Check your first aid kit. Does it need replenishing? Does it exist? No one ever plans to need a first aid kit. Plan to have a good one ready when your unexpected need arises.
- Consider travelling with a car box/supply box. You can call this what you will and, based on your regular travel, it may be big or small. This is where the “keep the kids busy” activities can reside along with the extra napkins, flashlight (check the batteries) candle and matches. A strong box with a snap-shut lid will ensure the contents stay inside when not needed and stay clean while stored. A box is also easy to take out of the car for replenishing and cleaning.
You may have other specific items to check depending on whether you use roof racks or have towing requirements. This 10 item list will get you started and ensure your road trip is more enjoyable.