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The essential checklist before a road trip

Set it up for worry-free travel


By Eric Tipan


You worked hard to fit into your board shorts this summer and you hand-picked the resort from the top 20 recommendations on social media. All you need now is to get there with all your gear and spend that quality downtime you rightfully deserve.

Whether you plan to bring the MTB or the surfboard, I detail the things you’ll need in order to get to your destination with all your ‘toys’ without having to play the part of a mechanic or worse, a hitchhiker.



Erring on the safe side, especially if it’s going to be a long drive, you will need to have several key components checked just to make sure that the drive will be pleasant and above all safe.

  • Tires must exhibit visible tread as this provides traction, which is vital in keeping your vehicle connected to the road.
  • Air filters must be clean for your engine to perform at its best in stressed conditions; like driving at high speed over long distances.
  • Spark plugs (all of them) should be firing consistently to be able to give you maximum power when you need it during the drive.
  • Fuel filters must be clean to ensure that your engine gets fuel sans any contaminants for optimal performance.
  • Engine belts have markings that fade, which is the sign it should be replaced. It is an automatic game-over should one snap during the drive.
  • Top up vehicle fluids: coolant ensures that your engine stays cool, brake fluid provides pressure to activate the brake calipers.
  • Lights — because it ain’t gonna be of any good use to you if its foggy, misty or simply not working.
  • Make sure that the spare tire has the proper amount of pressure in case it needs to be used.
  • Car batteries usually have a two-year lifespan. Using it any day after 24 months, even if the voltmeter says it still puts out the correct voltage, is a risk. Either replace it or have cables ready for a jumpstart just to be sure.
  • Check if fan motors are making noise during operation. Otherwise, it doesn’t need replacement.
  • Brake pads are measured by thickness. A mechanic will be able to tell you if it needs to be changed.
  • Engine oil changes must be done every 10,000 kilometers or every six months. If you’re going for a long drive on the fifth month before an oil change, it’s a good idea to replace it already to make sure your engine performs at its best during the long drive.

2Racks, hitches and clip-ons

Consider these points when carrying your sports equipment with you. Your choice will depend largely on your loading and unloading preference.

  • Roof racks are probably the most secure way to transport your bike, although it will decrease the aerodynamic efficiency of your vehicle and loading/unloading is a workout in itself. Watch out for low ceiling drive-thrus and basement parking.
  • Hitches are permanent racks positioned at the rear of your vehicle. Your bikes and other equipment will be exposed to traffic and could be damaged should you get rear-ended.
  • Trunk Clip-ons is the cheapest option and it uses straps to attach a rack on your trunk. Padding on the areas where the straps are attached may be needed to protect the vehicle paint. When attached, the can make the trunk inaccessible.

The clean-up

Accept the fact that the cabin will get messy throughout the trip. It will either be from the chips you’re munching on along the way or just the stuff your shoes bring in as you keep going in and out of the vehicle.

Don’t be OC. If you can’t help it, get yourself one of those expensive liners/mats. Precisely measured to fit just about any specific make and model, it provides total edge-to-edge protection from liquid spills and dirt you inadvertently bring in as it comes with raised edges to prevent anything and everything from getting on the carpet. Another option is to simply schedule an interior detailing session after the vacation.

Have fun!

Vehicle, check! Accessories, check! This is how it’s supposed to be done. Never just hop into the car and set off for a long drive, because if your vehicle breaks down, it’s not just your vacation that’s in danger. Be a responsible vehicle owner so you can have total peace of mind and a mind-blowing time during your vacation.

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