How to get a van ready for a road trip

Preparing the van camper for a road trip is Priority 1 on our to-do list. We have to make sure that the van is road worthy by checking tires and oil. It also entails double checking solar connections and trying to prevent anything that could go wrong.

If you own a vehicle, you’ll want to know about the a alignment surprise that I got at Pep Boys! Getting an alignment and new tires before hitting the road can help with gas mileage and prevent the tire damage that can happen from being out of line.

20190729_152557Pep Boys is one of the few places local to me that can accommodate an alignment on an extended Chevy Express. So, off to Pep Boys it was. Normally the alignment runs $89.99. Plus, the van usually needs to realigned when we get back from our travels. What I found at Pep Boys made my day! I was going to take the regular alignment and think nothing of it. However, the clerk asked me a question that gave me pause.

It turns out that the one year unlimited alignment was on sale for only $30 more than the one time option. This means that I would be able to bring the van in for unlimited checks and alignments for a full year. I signed up for that almost before he had the words out of his mouth!

Next up was to get tires from Sam’s Club. There are two reasons that attract me into tire buying at Sam’s Club. The nationwide warranty and number of clubs in the U.S. increases my chances of getting a tire repaired easily on the road trip. Plus, as part of the Sam’s Club All-in tire installation the tires come with lifetime flat repair, balancing, rotation and emergency roadside tire service! 

All I have to do is keep my receipt. If I need to tap into the roadside tire service all I do is call an 800 number and they’ll take it from there. I am an AAA member but the extra protection gives me peace of mind.

c5d70-aaa2Bweb-logoThe next thing I had to do to get the van ready for a road trip was to upgrade my AAA membership. Somehow we had only gotten the AAA Plus Membership when we renewed. It’s a good plan. You get four 100 mile tows, flat tire service and $1,000 in trip interruption service etc. But, I am prepping for a road trip to Alaska and wanted AAA Premier.

The AAA Premier membership comes with one tow of up to 200 miles and three tows of up to 100 miles. It also has $1,500 in trip interruption insurance, free fuel delivery,  24 hour travel assistance and more. Definitely extra coverage that might be needed for travel in the U.S. or Canada.

Hubby took care of the oil and filter change himself. He also checked all fluids. We made sure I had high quality “bug juice” windshield window washer fluid in the van and extra for the road.

The joke is that the State Bird of Alaska is the mosquito. If you’re heading that way, always be sure to stock up on the strongest window washing fluid that you can buy. Trust me. You’ll thank yourself for it.

Other articles include:
Me, a service dog and a cross-continent drive to Alaska
Harvest Hosts offers overnight camping at unique locations


Please note:
This article is not sponsored by any of the companies mentioned above. Links to those companies that are included here are referral links. If you join AAA South through the link, we both get $20 off the next membership. Join through the Sam’s Club link and we both get a $10 e-gift card. Details are on those respective links. How’s that for cool?

Me, a service dog and a cross-continent drive to Alaska

Yes, it’s happening. My service dog and I are heading to Alaska next month. (July 2019) It’s a bodacious pinch-me-I’m-dreaming kind of move. I’m no stranger when it comes to driving to Alaska. This will be my fourth round trip on the Alcan (or Alaska Highway if you prefer). So what’s different this time?

Always before there has been another adult with me. It was my daughter in 2009, Hubby in 2015 and a friend in 2017. This time I’ll be driving there as a solo female van dweller. Hubby will make the return voyage with me

Along with me and my service dog will be all my insecurities. Until now the fartherest that I have been by myself is to drive to Washington, D.C. from Tennessee. It was a long drive, but nothing like a cross continental drive to Alaska.

My insecurities aren’t just my own. Some are being pushed on me by well meaning others. Only a few echo my own. The most common is what if the van breaks.

That one doesn’t bother me. I have an emergency fund. My AAA membership covers 200 miles of towing. I also have towing on my onsurance. The plan is to find out what prepaid cell phone works and buy one. I also have a CB for back up communication. Plus, AAA has trip interruption and I have travel insurance.

If that doesn’t have me covered for van repairs, then I’d better stay home.

My insecurities are along the lines of…

  • What if I get overwhelmed and have an emotional travel breakdown? ( Call Hubby or find Wi-Fi on the road and call with Skype or Facebook).
  • What if my service dog gets sick? (His Banfield plan comes with 24/7 vet access. Plus, a daughter is a vet tech).
  • What if I get sick? (MDLive is covered by my health insurance and is available 24/7. Walgreens is nationwide).

There’s still this lingering doubt? The uncertainty of driving to Alaska gives pause. There are other “what ifs” floating about.

So, what if…?

I don’t know, but I’m about to find out.