Preparing and Packing Your Pickup Truck for a Road Trip or Vacation
Few things are as exciting as getting your car or truck ready for the open road because let’s face it, we all need a vacation every now and then. Even if it’s just a weekend trip, that time away can go a long way to refresh both body and soul so that we’re better prepared for what awaits us when we return. Packing your vehicle properly is important because you won’t want to forget anything and find that you don’t have something you really wanted to take along with you, but all it takes to be successful at this endeavor is a little planning and some organizational skills.
If you have a pickup truck, you might think you don’t have as much storage space as you would with a car or SUV, but you might be surprised to find out that this isn’t necessarily true. If your truck is what’s going to take you to your vacation destination, there are some things you can do to make the trip more productive, so if you follow the tips and suggestions below, your time on the road should be more successful and a lot more fun.
Conduct a Checkup on the Truck’s Condition
Before you head out for your trip, give your truck a good checkup to make sure nothing is out of the ordinary. Check the tires to see if they have enough air in them, and check the belts and fluids under the hood. Look over the belts to make sure none of them are loose or broken, and when you’re checking the fluid levels, make sure you don’t miss any of these:
- Brake fluid. Brake fluid should be changed every 45,000 miles, and the brake fluid container is usually translucent with minimum and maximum level markings. If it’s low, you’ll need to top it off until the level is right.
- The coolant is usually in a clear or translucent container and usually has minimum and maximum level markings. If you have to add coolant, make sure to check the instructions because some coolants require a 50/50 mixture of coolant and water, while others do not.
- Engine oil. This is the most important fluid to check. Engine oil needs to be changed every 3,000 to 5,000 miles, and the levels need to be checked regularly so that you have enough in there.
- Power steering fluid. The container of power steering fluid is usually marked with the words “steering” or “power steering.” It will come with either a dipstick or a cap that you can remove to check the level.
- Transmission fluid. The transmission fluid is usually found either in front of or in back of the engine, and not all of them have a dipstick. On the ones that don’t have a dipstick, you should be able to open the container itself and see if there’s enough fluid in there. If you’re not sure about doing it yourself, get a mechanic to check it for you.
- Windshield wiper fluid. The container holding your windshield wiper fluid is usually translucent and therefore, it is easy to determine how much fluid is in there.
Before you do anything else, you should also check all of your lights to make sure they work, and if they don’t, replace them immediately.
Pack Some Safety Items to Bring with You
Safety is important when you’re on the road, and this includes preparing for the unexpected. Consider the worst-case scenario – your truck breaking down while you’re on the road – and consider what you’ll need if this happens to you. The first thing you’ll want to include is a basic tool kit, one that is designed specifically to repair cars. This way, if you missed something during your checkup of the vehicle and something goes wrong, you’ll very likely be able to fix it, at least temporarily, so that you can continue your trip.
You’ll also want a sturdy, professional flashlight and brand-new batteries, and if you can bring extra batteries with you, that’s even better. In addition, having some type of survival kit is perfect because there are survival kits on the market that you can buy and which come with everything you’ll need to take care of yourself should some type of emergency occur. In fact, you may also want to pack a small bag with an extra set of clothes and some toiletries in case you can’t get your truck working right away and you have to stay in a hotel room for the night.
Packing Items Inside of Your Truck
No road trip is complete without making sure you pack enough “stuff,” and with a truck, you can pack things both inside and outside of the vehicle. On the inside, especially if you have an extra cab, you can pack things in back of the front seats. If you don’t have an extra cab, you’ll be limited when it comes to storing things for your trip, but that’s alright because you’ll always have the back of the truck to store even more things. But if you have an extra cab, make sure you store things there that you wouldn’t want to get wet if it rains along the way.
You may also be able to place multi-compartment containers in the extra cab part of the truck, then use those compartments to store things such as your tool kit, small luggage pieces, tote bags, and so on. If you plan accordingly, you’ll be able to store quite a few things in the extra cab of your pickup truck. It just takes a little planning ahead of time.
Packing Items in the Back of Your Truck
Whether you have a short-bed or long-bed truck, you’ll likely be amazed to discover how much you can pack and store in the back of it. If you purchase a bed cover, this is even better because all of your items will be protected from the elements. Always check out the items you can buy that add additional storage space in the bed of the truck. These things include:
- Beds that come with a built-in hidden storage hole right in the middle and comes with a cover to hide it when it’s not in use.
- Drawers that go inside of the back bumper and which store things such as clothes and other items.
- Storage compartments in your taillights, which are usually some type of sliding drawer that goes in and out.
- Storage lockers that are fitted behind your back seats so they are easy to get to.
- Truck bed organizers, which come in several varieties but which are usually attached to the bed and contain different compartments that you can put things in to keep them easily accessible. These can be crates, baskets, or anything else that holds a lot of items.
- Large storage bags that are waterproof and allow you to store a lot of items, then you can zip it up tight and place it in the truck bed.
In fact, the more you research, the more interesting things you’ll find that you can install or insert into your truck’s bed so that your storage space will automatically increase. The best part is, most of these storage items are very reasonably priced.
Is it Worth it to Get a Tonneau Cover?
A well-made tonneau cover is worth the money for several reasons. First of all, they can be either soft or rigid covers, depending on your preferences. They fit tightly just like a cap does, but they can be removed or lifted up easily and quickly when you don’t need them. Most of all, they protect everything in the bed of your truck from the elements, and if you think they aren’t made as well as a cap is and they might leak, think again. Today’s tonneau covers are very professionally made and fit tight, so you can store your items in the truck bed with confidence.
Not only do these covers protect the items you keep in the back of your truck, but most of them are designed to provide better aerodynamics as well. This means you’ll get better gas mileage and the ride itself should be smoother, which is definitely a big advantage for people who drive pickup trucks. Large beds especially tend to be hard on gas mileage, but you can lessen this effect by having something that covers the bed, especially if you have a lot of items inside of that bed.
Don’t Forget the Fun Stuff
Finally, before you take off, you’ll want to make sure you pack some fun stuff, such as music CDs, books, puzzles, games, and so on. After all, when you stop for a break or if you’re headed out on a camping trip, this will give you something to do that is both fun and relaxing. CDs and audiobooks can be listened to while you’re on the road, and working a crossword puzzle or playing a game is perfect for when you stop for the night. After all, road trips should be fun above all else, so make sure you don’t forget any items that will increase your level of fun!
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