The end of summer often comes with a change of pace. Students and teachers head back to school, cold-weather wardrobes emerge from the backs of closets and summer gear like camping supplies, beach bags and sunscreen is packed up once again.
Summer is the ideal season for road trips, in part due to long, warm days, low gas prices and favorable road conditions. However, a fall road trip is a popular way to welcome in the new season and give in to wanderlust before winter weather arrives.
Before you head off on your autumnal adventure, it’s important that you are prepared for the open road.
“A fall road trip is a popular way to welcome in the new season.”
Step 1: Save
Before taking any trip, it’s important that you have your finances in order. Going into debt is a good way to put a damper on your vacation, and you want to be sure you are able to cover all expenses along the way. This includes unexpected payments, such as car repairs if needed.
To save for anything, you’ll need to create a budget. Determine how much you can afford to set aside for your trip each month. Then, be sure to route this amount of money into a separate account or devise a plan to not spend that money.
When saving for a trip, and while you’re on the actual vacation, it’s important that you’re still allocating enough funds to essentials like debt payments, rent, food and utilities. If you fall behind on these items, you may struggle to get back on stable financial ground when you return.
For this reason, you’ll want to create a trip budget. Determine how much you can comfortably spend during your trip and be sure not to go over this amount. One method to stay on track is to bring the amount you can afford to spend each day in cash, and make a point not to bring your card out when the money’s gone.
Step 2: Plan
The U.S. is filled with many beautiful areas that have a wide variety of beautiful fall landscapes. When you go depends on where you’re going and what Mother Nature has in store for the area. As Colorado Tourism pointed out, fall colors may only last a week in some areas.
Because of this, for those planning their trips in advance, it may be wise to choose a general destination, such as Colorado, Michigan or the East Coast, but not specific destinations. Instead, determine where the best colors can be seen immediately prior to your departure. However, you can usually tell in advance where you’ll see the best colors, depending on which month you plan to go in.
- September – check out the early colorful foliage in Colorado
- October – Michigan is usually filled with orange and red before Halloween
- November – Connecticut’s colors have been known to last until early November
Step 3: Car review
Before any road trip, it’s important that you give your car a once-over to check for any signs of future problems, Consumer Reports advised.
Tires and brakes
Tires and brakes are two of the most important safety features on any vehicle. Before going on a long excursion, make sure they are both in good shape. If your tires are between 5 and 10 years old, you should be keeping a close eye on them, or bringing them in regularly to be checked out by a professional, Michelin explained. After a decade, it’s time to retire those tires.
Conduct a thorough review of all the fluids in your car, including oil, brake fluid and windshield washing fluid. If you typically use a different formula in the winter, it might be worthwhile to start putting this in before your fall road trip. Depending on where you go, you might begin to see some cooler temperatures already.