Many students take advantage of summer vacation by going on a road trip with friends. They take turns driving, play games in the car, blast up the music, and take lots of pictures! Before going on your road trip, it’s important to make sure you have everything prepared!


1. Driver’s license, vehicle registration, and insurance card

When driving in the U.S., there are three things you must have—driver’s license, registration, and insurance card. Make sure they are updated as well.

Typically, the insurance card only has the policyholder’s name, but as long as the police sees that you have insurance then there shouldn’t be any trouble. After buying auto insurance, leave the insurance card in your car and the policy at home because in an event of an accident, it is important to exchange information without disclosing the premiums to prevent the other party from asking for more compensation than required.

When traveling with friends, you should check if your liability insurance is high enough so that when you and your friends are taking turns driving, the person driving who is not the insured will be covered. Check if your policy has roadside assistance just in case your car gets a flat tire

Many people use loans or car rentals when buying a new car. Even if you buy full coverage, if the car is scrapped, the insurance company will only pay up to the market price. For those who just bought their car, the loss will be pretty big because there is a difference between loans and market prices. In this case, you might want to consider buying gap insurance, which could compensate for the value difference between the market price and the loan.

For this kind of insurance, you can only add it when you buy the insurance the first time. The premiums are only $10~$20 a year.

2. Emergency food, medicine, personal items

Traveling on the road can bring about a lot of uncontrollable events, such as getting lost, traffic jams, and many more. For this reason, you should carry dry foods and snacks, a sufficient amount of water, blankets, warm clothing, bandages, medicine, phone charger, and other emergency items.

Traffic accidents can cause traffic jams that can last a very long time. Typically, a gallon of water per person is the suggested and safest amount. In emergencies, if used sparingly, the gallon of water can last three days. If you start to feel uneasy on the ride, having dry foods and snacks such as crackers can ease the discomfort.

It’s best to have a first aid kit in the car that includes salt water, alcohol disinfectant, anti-inflammatory ointment, tape, bandages, and so on. It is important to have the first aid kit in a location that is easily accessible and can quickly be found in case of any emergencies.

Matches and lighters can be useful for situations when light is needed. They should be placed in a dry place when not in use. Hand-powered flashlights are also useful since they don’t require a battery to work and can be used at any time.

Extra chargers might also be smart for your friends who might forget them. Phones can be used for lighting and to contact anyone if needed, so portable chargers will also be useful to keep your phone fully charged.

Make sure you always have cash on you! Carrying cash is important because some places might not accept credit cards. However, make sure you store it in an inconspicuous place so that it cannot be easily found.

3. Vehicle inspection

Before hitting the road, check your tire pressure, spare tire, engine oil, if there’s enough air in your tires, and if your brakes have enough power.

If you’re driving to the mountains, make sure your car has enough horsepower and that the gas tank can last. Make sure your tires are in good condition based on what kind of road you’ll be driving on.

Since it doesn’t rain much in California, many people don’t remember to check their windshield wipers. It is important to check that they are functional in clearing the windows. If it’s raining really hard and your wipers aren’t working properly in wiping off the rain, it can become very dangerous, causing blurred and unclear vision, and most importantly, putting your safety at risk.

With all that being said, have a safe and adventurous road trip!