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Holy Week, summer, and agreeable weather for road trips are upon us. Indeed, many families and groups of friends will likely have the same idea of hitting the road for a much needed respite. Yet, before you head out, it’s important to ensure that your vehicle is ready for the journey. After all, road trips – some spanning hours, and possibly aggravated by the heavy traffic on Holy Week and the extra load of bags and passengers — can be hard on cars. Before embarking on that drive, be sure that your vehicle is ready for it.

Here are some tips to ensure your car can take it on safely and with little trouble.

1. Plan, plan, plan. Take some time to carefully plan your route, stops, and possible detours. It’s a long road ahead and preparing for traffic, fatigue, and bathroom breaks can and will prevent many arguments when already on the road. Stay updated with the tollways you intend to pass through their social media accounts or via news reports and plan a possible alternate route if they warn of heavy traffic.

Should something go awry, keep an eye out for the nearest Petron Lakbay Alalay. They’ve been helping out motorists for 30 years now, and this coming Holy Wednesday (April 12), Maundy Thursday (April 13), Black Saturday (April 15),and Easter Sunday (April 16) they will be on standby in the major expressways in Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao.

2. Declutter the car. Before loading up, before the long journey, take some time to inspect the car. Use this time to ensure the spare is properly inflated, the tools are where they should be, and pack in some useful items like jumper cables, tie-down straps, some duct tape and extra fluids to top up the vehicle while you’re at it. Look around the vehicle for clutter like cans, plastic bottles, old clothes and other items you won’t need for the journey. This can free up some surprising space for friends and family.

3. Check the BLOWBAG. The most important step is ensuring your car is capable of making the journey. BLOWBAG is a handy mnemonic to remember: Brakes, Lights, Oil, Water, Battery, Air pressure, and Gas. Check that these are in proper working order ideally a week before your journey in order to have them repaired if there are issues before the last minute.

4. Keep the driver in mind. Driving too far-off destinations can be tedious and even more dangerous when fatigue sets in. Make it easy for your designated driver by keeping driving time down to two hour stints. Schedule stops for the driver to take a break, grab a cup of coffee, or to change drivers. Once on the road, try not to point out too many interesting or unusual things you see that may distract him. Create a playlist of upbeat music to keep him and everybody else entertained. A rule of thumb: whoever sits shotgun should keep an eye out on the driver.

5. Use tech to your advantage. If your car has built-in navigation, plot out a route with possible stops and detours ahead of time. Another option is to designate a navigator. Use Waze, Google Maps, or any preferred navigation app to check for traffic updates or possible alternate routes for the driver.

In addition, stay updated with the traffic situation by following the social media accounts of tollways and local traffic authorities of the areas you intend to pass. Try to fit a dashboard camera or borrow one just for the trip. This will record the whole journey and can come in handy should you get in an accident.

Pro-tip: The new TOTAL Services station finder app is an all-around guide that helps you, navigate the metro by finding you the shortest routes to the nearest TOTAL service stations, where you can fuel up and stock up on supplies. The TOTAL Services station finder App is an all-around guide available for Android and Apple devices.

6. Remember: plans can and will change. It’s important to keep in mind that unforeseeable incidents like accidents, heavy traffic or vehicle trouble can quickly change an itinerary. It’s important to plan, but it’s also important to be flexible and be willing to alter them or take in suggestions. Many road trips are easily ruined by in-car arguments. Add a few hours as a buffer to your intended time of arrival for whatever may come up. You’d be surprised how a little unplanned detour or stop can work wonders for the journey.

Following these tips should ensure a more enjoyable and relaxing journey to your chosen destination, or perhaps even the highlight of your trip. Drive safe and enjoy!

Illustration: Madel Crudo

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