Preparing Your Car for a Road Trip
Schedule your car for a routine maintenance check-up about 2 weeks prior to setting off on your road trip excursion. Have the following items given the once-over:
- Fill all fluids and check appropriate filters
- Tires – ensure proper tread and inflation (don’t forget the spare!)
- check hoses and belts for loose connections or leaks
- Brakes – measure wear
- Lights – headlights, interior and turn signals
- Battery – obtain a load test to ensure charge. (Sometimes your local auto parts store will perform this test for free.)
- Cooling/Heating systems
- Spark plug wires
What To Bring
- Map / guidebook
- Cell phone
- Oil, extra fuses
- Emergency kit, First-aid kit
- Entertainment! Music, games, etc...
- Food and drink
- Auto club membership
- Medical cards and prescription information
- Spare keys
- License, registration, proof of insurance
Helpful Links When Planning a Destination
- Fodor’s Travel Guides
- Frommer’s Travel Guides
- Lonely Planet Travel Guides
- Let’s Go Travel Guides
- Roadtrip America
- See America
- National Scenic Byways Online
- 1,000 Places To See Before You Die
Web Travel Planning
The internet has made traveling a breeze. With just a few clicks of the mouse you can find some great hideaways. Here are some links geared to help you find out the best way to get there:
Here are some favorite destinations within the States
Article: Best Beaches
There are around 400 national parks across the United States – any and all of them would make a great getaway to bring you back to nature. Visit the National Park Service for more information on U.S. National Parks, and for a more complete listing of U.S. National Parks, click here.
- National Geographic U.S. and Canada Destinations
- Destination360 U.S. and Canada Destinations
- Roadside America Roadside Attractions
- World’s Largest Roadside Attractions
- Roadside Tourist Roadside Attractions
- Swimming Holes in the U.S. and Canada
- Pictures of Places
- Places to Stay
- Romantic Getaways in the U.S. and Canada
Tips for Traveling with Kids
- Leave early – This will not only grant you an early start, but the kiddies should be sleeping for the first leg of the ride.
- Bring plenty of books, puzzles and toys to entertain the kids. Maybe even present them with a surprise in the way of a new toy during the road trip to keep their interest.
- If your vehicle is not already equipped –pack music, portable DVD player and games that the children will enjoy.
- Plenty of snacks and drinks for all!
- Stop at a rest stop every 3-4 hours to keep kids refreshed.
- Play games as a family.
- Bring comfy blankets, pillows, clothes to prevent restlessness (and encourage REST) in the backseat.
- 101 Car Travel Games and Road Trip Ideas for Kids
- Classic Road-Trip Games
- Travel Tips and Ideas for Kids
- Advice for the Long and Whining Road
- Road Trip Games
Article: 15 Places Every Kid Should See
Article: 4 Great Road Trips for Families
Traveling to Canada
When crossing the border in or out of Canada, you will need to provide the following information:
- Proof of citizenship (original or certified birth certificate, naturalization certificate or passport)
- Government issued photo ID (Driver’s License, Military ID) – not required for children under 18
- Car registration, insurance
- If you are driving a rental car, make sure you have a copy of the rental agreement and permission to drive over the border.
- If you are driving someone else’s car, make sure you can prove that you have permission to drive it over the border, the border patrol officials are looking for stolen vehicles or people trying to avoid paying duties on new cars.
Once you arrive at the border, Border Patrol will most likely ask you the following:
- Where are you going?
- How long are you staying?
- What is the purpose of your trip?
- Are you bringing anything with you that you are going to leave behind?
- Canada Border Services Agency: FAQs
- Visit Canada: Passport and Customs Information
- U.S. Customs and Border Protection
- Border Wait Times
- Things to do in Canada
The entry laws are similar for Mexico as they are for Canada. No passport is required for land travel at this time, but you will need to present proof of citizenship and a Government-issued photo ID. A Mexican tourist card is required for visiting Mexico beyond the border cities, or for stays longer than 72 hours. These cards are free and available from Mexican immigration authorities at the border, Mexican consulates and Mexican government tourist offices in the United States. You will need proof of US citizenship to obtain the card.
An automobile permit is also required when driving past the border cities. This card is good for up to 180 days and can be obtained at the border after the tourist card has been recognized and stamped. This card comes with a fee of $10 that must be paid by the owner of the vehicle (proving vehicle ownership) with a major credit card. The permit must be surrendered upon exiting Mexico.
When driving to Mexico, after the border, you will also have to stop at one of Mexico’s Federal Inspection Points located along major highways (approximately 12 miles from the border). Present your vehicle permit and your baggage will also be inspected. In addition, you will need to obtain, specifically, Mexican insurance for your vehicle. You can acquire short-term solutions on the U.S. side of the border.
As with Canada, it is advisable to register any foreign-made articles with customs officials, as not to be responsible for the duty tax upon re-entry into the States.
U.S. Dollars are acceptable and easy to use in Mexico, but should you need Mexican currency, you can visit a bank or large hotel while in the country.