As the weather gets warmer and the days get longer, you may be thinking about your upcoming summer vacation. Maybe this is the year for that long-awaited road trip. If that’s your plan for this summer, here are five safety tips to keep in mind before you hit the open road.

1. Know before you go

Research your road trip route in advance. Familiarize yourself with any possible road closures or major events that may cause traffic delays or detours during your journey. Having a hands-free GPS is crucial for any long-distance adventure. Many GPS brands now come with live traffic reports, and “fuel-finder” features that will help you locate the nearest and cheapest gas stations. It’s always a good idea to have a backup map, in case you find yourself off the grid and stuck without reception. A good trick is to save a map from an online mapping site for offline access later. This could be a lifesaver if you find yourself in a mobile data dead-zone.

2. Get your vehicle road ready

Before you head out on your big trip, have your vehicle and engine serviced by a professional mechanic. You’ll want to check the fluids (everything from oil to power steering to windshield washer), the tire pressure and alignment, the brakes and the lights, and make sure your front and rear wipers give you a smear-free view when it rains. A pre-trip auto checkup could make all the difference to the success and safety of your family vacation.

3. Pack a survival kit

Always be prepared for those worst-case scenarios by packing a roadside survival kit. Having a few key items in your trunk will make unexpected breakdowns a lot more manageable. Your kit should include a well-stocked first-aid kit (including bandages, gauze, pain reliever, antiseptic, etc.), cell phone charger, drinking water, extra food, tools (duct tape, rope, screwdrivers, hammer, adjustable wrench, pliers, etc.), a flashlight with fresh batteries and, of course, a blanket in case the temperature drops.

4. Be well-rested and alert

Don’t get too ambitious with your itinerary. You don’t want to exhaust yourself with a 12-hour drive, or too many long driving days in a row. Make plenty of stops – at least one every two hours – to stretch your legs, use the washroom and get some fresh air. Be flexible with your driving plans so you can enjoy the journey. And, of course, give your full attention to the road by avoiding distractions such as cell phones.

5. Don’t forget travel insurance

Review your auto insurance to find out what it will and won’t cover for your road trip, such as a rental car or roadside assistance. Also keep in mind that even when you’re travelling within Canada, you may not have the same level of health care coverage that you have at home. You need to determine whether you need to supplement your provincial health insurance coverage with travel insurance, to make sure your family is protected.

Happy and safe travels!