Preparing for a Colorado Road Trip

Colorado is one of those destinations that must be discovered by car. Flying from city to city might be the most efficient form of transportation but then you would miss out on the beauty of Colorado’s natural landscapes and this is the number one reason to visit. A Colorado road trip should be at the top of everyone’s bucket lists, especially during the summer months when there is no snow on the road and there are festivals galore. To help you prepare for your road trip, check out our recommendations to ensure a smooth ride and the best holiday of your life.

Driving Colorado’s steep slopes is best done with a 4-wheel drive vehicle. If you don’t own one yourself, try using your “phone a friend” for a favor, otherwise, consider the costs for renting one. Even if it costs you a little extra money, having that 4-wheel drive will be worth it. That being said, it is not a necessity and don’t let this detail keep you off the road.

Whether you are driving your own car or a rental, you should always do a full check on your vehicle before taking it into the mountains or countryside where you are not likely to find an auto repair shop nearby. So, what exactly are you checking for? First, check your fluids. This includes brakes, radiator, coolant, transmission, etc. It’s best to get your oil changed (and filter) at the start of your trip (unless it was just recently changed, of course). Additionally, this should go without saying, fill up your gas tank! You might even consider bringing along extra gas if you plan to be away from civilization for a long period of time. Next, check that your hoses, belts and wires are all secure. These tend to become loose overtime and can you leave stranded at the worst possible time. If your tires are almost bald, you should definitely invest the money to have them changed before embarking on your road trip. You want to ensure they have plenty of tread in a place like Colorado. Otherwise, just check that your tire pressure is where it should be.  Lastly, check that everything is running properly, for example, heating and air conditioning, headlights and gauges. Make sure your battery and brakes are in good condition and that they aren’t nearing the end of their lives.

Once your car is ready for the ultimate Colorado road trip, it’s time to make sure you are. So, what things do you need to pack? First of all, pack an emergency kit for your car, including jumper cables, flashlight, tire sealant and extra fuses. You’re better safe than sorry. Additionally, it’s always best to keep a multi-tool on you. These will come in handy more than for your car but in multiple situations. If you don’t already have a multi-tool, check out the Leatherman Charge TTi, one of the best multi-tools for 2014. It’s also strongly recommended to invest in a AAA Membership or something similar in the event you need to be towed, lock your keys in the car (it happens!) or even run out of gas.

In addition to an emergency kit for your car, you should have an emergency kit for yourself including bandages, gauze, ointments, sanitary wipes as well as antibiotics and any other prescriptions you have. Accidents do happen and you may be far from a hospital or clinic while hiking or biking through the parks and mountains. And, on that note, make sure you always keep plenty of water on you.

It is wise to invest in a good road map of the entire state. Even though many of us are equipped with GPS systems on our phones and tablets, it is never a good idea to depend on technology. For one thing, if you lose power and have no way to charge up, you are on your own. Not to mention, when you are in remote areas away from cell towers, you may not be able to get any service in order for your GPS to acquire satellites. Therefore, have a back-up plan and get a paper map. In addition to a map, it might be wise to invest in a good guidebook. Lonely Planet is a very popular travel source, but there are many others out there. These are actually quite useful and provide a ton of valuable information. You will never have to wonder, “What is there to do here?” Consult your book and be on your way.

The last, and possibly most important, step in your preparation is to have plenty of food and drink so you don’t starve. Well, you probably aren’t going to starve. But still, stocking up on junk food is possibly the best part of driving long distances. Not only that, but you will make less long stops for eating at restaurants and it will save you money on eating out. Additionally, it’s great to have food on you if you want to pull over among some of the most scenic views and have a picnic right outside of your car. Pack a cooler with beverages, lunch meat and a few condiments along with a loaf of bread and some munchies and you will not have to think twice about making pit stops to feast by a lake or in some of the most beautiful national parks in the world.