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?

A Different Kind of Island Getaway: The Isle of Skye

When most people think of an island getaway, they imagine a tropical paradise where the beach is always just a short walk from their hotel. The weather is always warm, the sun is shining, and a summer subscription box will have the perfect accessories to help you stand out even while you relax.

Sure, that sounds like an appealing way to spend a few days. However, some people want to do more on their vacations than lounge around. Their sense of adventure draws them to non-traditional island getaways, such as Skye.

This island off the coast of Scotland is known for its dramatic combination of impressive mountains and sharp cliffs. It’s the perfect spot to visit if you’re looking for an island vacation that offers more to do than relax beneath the sun.

Interested? Keep reading to learn how to make the most of your trip.

Places to Stay

To fully enjoy your visit, plan on staying in multiple parts of the island during your trip. You might consider starting at Eilean Iarmain hotel. It’s relatively close to the ferry drop-off point, and travel writers have praised its “deliriously pretty” location.

After spending a couple of days exploring the area around the first hotel, make your way to the Skeabost Hotel. This spot offers you a chance to explore acres of wooded areas, while spending your nights relaxing in a luxurious environment that recalls Scotland’s history.

Items to Pack

The weather in Skye can get a little brisk. It’s also prone to sudden rain showers. Even when it’s not raining, expect the skies to be overcast.

In other words, be sure to pack layers for this trip. While most island getaways require bringing along swimwear, visiting Skye is a little different. You’ll want several items to ensure you can easily explore the island. Specifically, bring the following:

  • A durable rucksack
  • Blouse, with capelet to wear over it
  • Tall rain boots

Luckily, you can still be fashionable with this type of wardrobe. You’re going to want to be, too. Skye is a gorgeous place, so expect to take more than a few pictures.


No trip to Skye is complete without stopping to eat at Loch Bay restaurant. This Michelin-starred spot offers a seafood tasting menu that can’t be missed.

When you’re exploring the island, make an effort to see Dunvegan Castle. You’ll quickly understand why people compare Skye to a land out of a fairy tale. The Cuillin Mountains in Sligachan also offer fantastic hiking if you’re the outdoorsy type. If you like spending time outdoors, but don’t like the idea of hiking up a mountain, the stone bridge near the mountains is a peaceful alternative.

Again, the next time you’re thinking about heading off to an island for vacation, don’t immediately settle for the traditional destinations. Skye is a beautiful island that many overlook. Who knows, it may just be the ideal spot for your trip.

This article is a guest post by:
Rae Steinbach
Rae is a graduate of Tufts University with a combined International Relations and Chinese degree. After spending time living and working abroad in China, she returned to NYC to pursue her career and continue curating quality content. Rae is passionate about travel, food, and writing.
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PT Cruiser on a map.
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