“National Lampoon’s Vacation” is one of the best road trip movies of all time … in my opinion. If you haven’t seen it, you should. The movie follows the Griswold family on a 2,405-mile road trip from Chicago to Walley World, a fictional amusement park in Los Angeles. Clark, the father, insists on driving “because getting there is half the fun!”
Clark Griswold isn’t alone, however, when it comes to taking summer vacations. Each year millions of American families pack up their cars and hit the road on summer road trips.
If you plan to embrace your inner Griswold this summer, here are some tips to prepare your home and vehicle before departure.
Secure your home. This starts with having homeowners insurance to protect your home and belongings in case of a burglary or unanticipated loss. Companies like Mercury Insurance recommend locking all doors and windows (including those located on the second floor and higher), activating the alarm system (which may qualify you for an additional homeowners insurance discount) before leaving and notifying a trusted neighbor that you’ll be away so they can keep an eye on things while you’re gone.
Don’t advertise your plans. Americans love social media. We can’t wait to post comments and pictures of the exciting things we’re doing … especially when we go on vacation. It’s not just our friends and family who take notice, however. Social media has also become the perfect way for burglars to select their next target. Yeah, those shots of you posing in front of the world’s largest ball of twine don’t just make for interesting dinner conversation. They also let the world know your house is empty and unattended, which makes it the perfect target. So while you may want to show the world how you cooked meat with a pitch fork, I’d recommend you wait until you get home to share that little beauty.
Prepare an emergency kit for your car. The last place you want to end up with a carload of kids asking “Are we there yet?” is stranded on the side of the road. Stock your car with an emergency kit before you hit the road. The kit should include:
· A cell phone charger;
· Jumper cables;
· Emergency cones and road flares;
· A spare tire, jack and lug nut wrench;
· A first aid kit;
· Nonperishable food like dried fruit, nuts, crackers, etc.;
· Water; and
Get your car road-ready. You may experience high temperatures, winding and uneven roads, or severe weather on your journey, so prep your car for the elements ahead of time. Top off your engine coolant to prevent overheating and your washer fluid to clean off the numerous bugs that will undoubtedly meet their end on your windshield. Check your tire tread, alignment and pressure to increase your fuel economy and protect against preventable blowouts. (Sometimes the occasional nail in the road or pothole will still prevail.)
Speak with your local insurance agent before you leave to make sure your car and home are fully covered while you’re off on your adventure. Then prepare your favorite road trip playlists and games, and enjoy your trip.