There’s an old saying about an ounce of prevention being worth a pound of cure. Well, it’s true, but you can also substitute in the word “preparation” for “prevention” and the saying is just as true. In fact, any soldier, spy, or international jewel thief will tell you that it’s important, if not necessary, to be prepared for every possible outcome. All of those are pretty macho professions, and it can’t hurt to apply some of that machismo to your road trip, can it? Of course not.

The excitement surrounding a road trip can be heady. You in your travel buddies will likely be thinking about all of the undoubtedly awesome times you’ll be having on the road. But in that excitement, it’s possible that you could overlook a few things. Crucial things that could potentially make or break your road trip. In fact, these are things you absolutely should know. We’ve got 5 of them for you, so learn well.

How to Change a Tire. if you’re rolling your eyes, stop. Quite a few people out there don’t know how to change a tire, and auto services won’t always be there to bail you out. It’s high time that this automotive knowledge become standard, because getting stranded on the side of the highway is no way to enjoy your road trip. Learn how to change your tire, and practice enough to be sure, because messing it up can be truly disastrous. And while you’re at it, get a full-sized spare tire.

How to Read a Map. Another skill that some have skirted given the modern comforts we enjoy, reading a map is crucial. Cell phones can die, and GPS can be flawed, especially if there are firmware issues. It’s always a great idea to have a roadmap for your trip in your possession, and what’s more important is that you know how to make heads or tails of it. Maps aren’t terribly complex, but if your experience with them is somewhat limited, you might be overwhelmed. A little pre-road trip study session is advised.

How to Drive a Standard. “But my car is automatic,” you cry. Well, picture this:  your car starts acting funny, or even breaks down, at your destination. Repairs are going to take time and the only rental you can get is a beat up old car with a manual transmission. If no one in your crew can drive a stick, you’re looking at a lot of walking or a lot of cab rides, which kind of hurts your road trip experience.  Remember, you need to be prepared for every possible outcome, so learn how to operate a manual transmission.


How to Perform Basic Maintenance. If your oil light comes on, and you’re nowhere near a service station you could be in big trouble. That’s doubly true if you’re not really a “car guy.” If the oil needs changing and you can’t do it, then a seized engine block awaits. That’s bad. You don’t need to know how to rebuild the whole engine, but you should know simple stuff, like how to check and replenish your fluids, and how to replace things like wiper blades. These things will help you in general, but especially on a road trip.

How to Drive in the Snow. Alright, this one is a bit more esoteric. If you’re traveling in the summer, or in the deep south, snow may not be an issue. But maybe you’re coming up north for the first time, looking to ski, and you’ve never driven in snow before. It pays to know what to do, because it can be a little tricky. Get on a message board and figure out what questions to ask, and the snow veterans will be happy to provide you with plenty of tips to help you be safe. Remember, always be prepared!

-Stu Moody