Road trip preparation: 8 essential checks

Young couple driving in car
Young couple driving in car

There's nothing worse than arriving at the ferry terminal a passport short, or reaching your beachside destination to find that you've forgotten your swimmers. While we can't help you with the latter, AOL Cars has put together a list of essential checks you should make before you set off on a motoring adventure.

Check one: Is your car up to the journey?

One of the first things to consider when setting out on a long trip is whether your vehicle is up to the challenge. Have you taken the car on a significant journey before, or has a worrying warning light been flashing recently? These are both questions prospective travellers should ask themselves before leaving the comfort of home.

Fixing an issue before it becomes a problem can help avoid a lot of embarrassing translation attempts, and a large recovery bill when you get home. Books and DVDs instructing on basic car maintenance are readily available online, but if you do not feel comfortable preparing your own car, make sure to take it to a garage for a comprehensive once-over.

eBay offers an unbeatable selection of parts and accessories from bulbs, batteries, wing mirrors and windscreen wipers

Mature couple looking at map in car
Mature couple looking at map in car

Check two: Have you planned your route?

Thorough planning prior to a trip can reduce stress and make for a hassle-free holiday. Perhaps one of the most important aspects to plan is where you're going, and how exactly you're going to get there. Do you want to cross France without spending fortunes on toll roads, or perhaps there's a beauty spot that you just can't miss?

Traditionalists will swear by sticking to a map but if you can afford one, a sat nav will offer you so much more than simple directions. Many systems boast a function to keep you updated on traffic conditions, diversions and other important information.

For safety-conscious drivers, fitting a dash cam to your vehicle is never a bad idea, especially when venturing into foreign territory.

eBay's In-Car Technology & Navigation category offers a broad selection of sat nav solutions, from DVD updates for inbuilt systems to stand-alone units such as Tom-Toms as well as cheaper alternatives such as mobile phone mounts.

Father and son (5-7) in car (focus on boy using portable DVD player)
Father and son (5-7) in car (focus on boy using portable DVD player)

Check three: Have you got something to keep boredom at bay?

A long car journey calls for plenty of entertainment, for both the driver and passengers. In-car DVD players are the perfect solution for bored children (or adults) in the back seats and with playback options from both DVDs and USB available, you'll be able to bring a decent selection with you.

If your car sound system is a bit outdated or broken, it be a good idea to invest in portable speakers for your mobile phone so you can play your playlists from there instead. You'll be able to use them in your holiday hotel room too.

Check four: Will your journey be safe and comfortable?

A first aid kit is never a bad idea when travelling. On the occasion of an injury, the last thing you want to be doing is trying to find a shop that sells antiseptic wipes or plasters. By packing a handy in car kit, you'll always be prepared for the little accidents that inevitably happen.

When driving a long distance, a once comfortable car can cause aches and pains that threaten to ruin your journey. Purchasing simple items, such as cushioned car seat covers and micro-bead neck cushions can help to prevent this, while the addition of sunshades can turn your car into a cool, comfortable retreat.

Problem on the road
Problem on the road

Check five: Do you have everything you need to drive in Europe?

When driving through Europe, it is a legal requirement to carry a number of items in your car. These include GB stickers, a headlight bulb kit and adaptors, a warning triangle and high visibility vests (one for each person in the vehicle).

Everything you need to comply with European driving laws can be purchased separately on eBay, or in conveniently-sized kits. Prices start from £10.

Check six: Do you have room for all your luggage?

Road trips are best with friends, however with lots of passengers in the car, space can be a bit tight. If you find you need a little extra room, there are plenty of internal and external storage solutions available, from roof boxes and bicycle racks – roof, boot or tow bar mounted – to back seat pocket organisers.

If you are taking food on your journey, or plan to have a cold beer on arrival at your destination, then an in-car cool bag or fridge is a must. In-car fridges plug conveniently into your car's 12v socket and could prove the ultimate camping companion.

Visit eBay's Luggage & Storage section to kit your car out with extra storage from roof racks to cool boxes

Sports utility vehicle driving on rural road, rear view
Sports utility vehicle driving on rural road, rear view

Check seven: Are you prepared for a break down?

Carrying a selection of tools and maintenance basics can mean the difference between a quick roadside fix, and a costly trip to a garage. Useful items you should think of carrying include engine oil, a jerry can, a jack, a tyre puncture kit and inflator, a tow rope and jump leads. Many of these items come as standard in newer cars but if you're missing anything, they're easy to find online.

Check eight: If you're going abroad, do you have a phrasebook?

Sometimes, despite your thorough preparation and DIY car fix kit, you may require the aid of a professional. While many Europeans speak English, it's always good to be prepared, and a phrasebook for every country you plan to travel through is essential.

Many phrase books have sections on car mechanics so if your car does get a pneu à plat (that's a flat tyre in French!), you'll know exactly what to say!

When embarking on a road trip or camping holiday, planning is key for a comfortable and hassle-free journey. With hundreds of affordable Road Trip & Getaway essentials offered on eBay, your petrol-powered getaway doesn't need to break the bank.