Top down, Springsteen on and nothing but the open road. Here at IDEAL we’re road trip junkies. Nothing gets our juices flowing more than the thought of fun-filled adventures on a summer road trip and with winter now in the rear view mirror, we’re planning our next one. However, the summer road trip demands more preparation than just throwing your things in a car and hitting the road. When the mercury ramps up, driving during the warm summer months presents its own unique set of challenges. With this in mind, here are 5 IDEAL pieces of travel advice for your next summer road trip.

MAKE SURE YOUR CAR’S ROADWORTHY

Nothing will put a damper on your road trip like breaking down. So first things first, get your car in shape for the rigors of travel.  If your car hasn’t been serviced in a while, then get one done well in advance. You can book in a service or MOT online at sites like Lookers.co.uk.

If all is up to date, it’s still worth going to your local garage and getting an experienced mechanic to inspect all the belts and hoses. Tyre and fluid levels need to checked, as do the windscreen wiper blades since they may have become worn over the winter. On hot days, some car batteries fail, especially if they are older, so it may be wise to replace it before setting off on your adventure.

MONITOR TYRE AND FLUID LEVELS

It’s essential to monitor your vehicle’s tyre pressure and fluid levels not only before, but also during your trip too. Low inflation can reduce fuel economy, costing you more in petrol (money better spent on ice cream and ice cold beer) and contribute to blow out related accidents. The heat can affect your tyre pressure, so every time you stop for petrol, check your tyres too.

In warm weather, most engine oil tends to thin out, which may prevent it from properly lubricating the engine during your trip. To avoid any problems the oil should be checked and if necessary changed before setting off on a long hot journey. And don’t forget to replace the coolant, which without (on hot sunny days particularly) can cause the car to overheat. Other items that should be checked include brake fluid levels and windscreen washer fluid.

BRING EMERGENCY EQUIPMENT

A well-stocked emergency travel kit should be kept in the boot at all times. The kit should include a flashlight, jumper cables, basic tools, flares and a blanket, along with non-perishable food like dried fruit and emergency water. Even though you’ll probably have your journey mapped out on your GPS system and your emergency numbers on your iphone, it’s always a good idea to carry an old fashioned paper map and any other information you may need, like your roadside assistance numbers, written down on paper in your glove compartment. Technology sometimes fails, batteries run out and screens break. Have a back up.   

PACK LIGHTLY AND WISELY

While an emergency travel kit is a must, don’t bring too many unnecessary items. There’s limited space in that car and overloading the vehicle can cause issues with tyre pressure, fuel economy and safety.  Also, travelling in a cram-packed car with no leg room is horrible and if items are piled too high, they can block the driver’s vision. So keep your luggage to a minimum and only pack the things your really need. Remember, you can always stop at a launderette and wash your clothes along the way. If the journey is long without many stops, it’s sensible to bring a cooler with light snacks and refreshments which you can replenish with additional items along the way. Also, load your car sensibly by keeping the items you need the most handy. This way, you won’t have to rummage around and need to unpack and repack constantly en route.

WATCH OUT FOR THE SUN AND TIRED DRIVING

As much as any summer road trip needs the sun, sometimes the scorching temperatures can make your road trip unbearable. Opening your car door in the summer can be like opening an oven, so keep your car cool and comfortable by always trying to park in the shade and putting up a sunshade or window visor every time you exit the car.  Driving in the heat can get pretty unpleasant so make sure your air conditioning works or crack a window open. The low sun in the summer can also cause bad visibility, so make sure you have a pair of sunglasses handy.  

Not only can the sun cause you to feel sticky and hot,  make you irritable and send tempers through the roof, it can also make you tired. Driving while fatigued is a major cause of accidents on motorways. To avoid temper tantrums and tiredness, drivers should exert caution and be prepared to stop and take short naps.

BE CAREFUL WHEN TOWING

If you’re going to be a towing a boat, caravan or trailer this summer then there are a whole set of summer road trip towing tips you need to know. Some involve simply exercising common sense, such as driving more slowly than you would under normal circumstances. Sudden lane changes, sharp braking and rapid deceleration that may put pressure on the engine, should also be avoided. Others are more complicated like knowing the towing regulations and making sure your towing equipment meets certain safety regulations. There are some pretty handy summer towing tip articles online.