How to Prepare Your Vehicle for a Road Trip as a Travel Nurse

Are you getting ready to go on a road trip adventure as a travel nurse? If so, there are some things you need to do to your vehicle before you hit the open road.

We will provide you with a checklist of items that you should make sure to take care of before embarking on your journey.

Follow these tips, and you’ll be cruising down the highway in no time!

Table of Contents

Make sure your vehicle is in good condition

This means getting a tune-up, if needed, and making sure all your fluids are topped off. You should always have a vehicle performance checklist readily available whenever you are planning a long road trip. Here are a few things you should have checked prior to hitting the road:

  1. Check air conditioning and heating operations
  2. Check radio operation
  3. Check the parking brake function
  4. Check brake pedal conditions
  5. Check lighting include license plate, domes, headlights low and high beam
  6. Check signal light operation, brake lights, and hazard warning lights
  7. Check windshield wipers operations, wiper blade quality, and position
  8. Check wiper fluid, spray power, and direction of washer nozzles
  9. Check the steering wheel for any looseness or wobble
  10. Check horn operation
  11. Check all seat belts
  12. Check all door glass operation
  13. Check spotlight illumination
  14. Check fuel tank entry for any damage
  15. Check in-car compartment lights
  16. Check all tire conditions, including the spare for any air leak and tread depth

I always recommend taking your car into the mechanic for a good once over to verify that everything is in working order.

Check the oil level and tire pressure

You should check your oil level and tire pressure every time you stop for gas. This is a good way to extend the life of your engine and tires.

How to check for oil level

  1. Park your car on a level surface and turn off the engine.
  2. Open the hood of your car.
  3. Locate the dipstick. It is usually bright yellow or orange and has a loop or handle at the end.
  4. Pull out the dipstick and wipe it clean with a rag.
  5. Reinsert the dipstick all the way back in and then pull it out again to check the oil level.
  6. The oil level should be between the “full” and “low” marks on the dipstick. If it is below the “low” mark, you will need to add oil.

Checking your tire pressure

It is important to check your tire pressure regularly to avoid a blowout while you are driving. You can check your tire pressure with a tire pressure gauge. Most gas stations have air pumps that you can use to fill up your tires if they are low.

The correct tire pressure for your car can be found in the owner’s manual or on a sticker inside the driver’s door.

Your tires should have at least 1/8 inch of tread depth. You can check this by using a penny.

Take the penny and insert it into the tread of your tire. If you can see Lincoln’s head, then you need new tires.

Look for any nails or screws stuck in your tire. One nail stuck in a tire can make or break a road trip. Be sure to check your spare tire as well and make sure it is properly inflated. It would be the worst to have a flat on your trip and not have a spare that is usable.

Fill up your gas tank

You should always fill up your gas tank before you start driving. This will help you avoid running out of gas in the middle of nowhere. I recommend filling up when you get down to a quarter tank of gas.

When on a road trip, I would map out the gas stations you plan to stop at as many times there can be a large distance between available gas stations, and you do not want to be stuck in the middle of nowhere because you decided to fill up “at the next gas station.”

Check for Vehicle Recalls

It is important to check for any recalls on your vehicle before you go on a road trip. You can do this by visiting the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s website and entering your vehicle’s 17-digit VIN number.

This will tell you if there have been any recalls on your vehicle that you need to be aware of.

Pack an emergency kit

You never know when you might need an emergency kit while you are on the road. I always recommend packing a few essential items, just in case.

Here are a few things I recommend packing:

  • Jumper cables
  • A first-aid kit (Bandages, Butterfly closures, Adhesive tape, Gauze pads, Antiseptic wipes, Cotton balls, Tweezers, Scissors, Safety pins, Soap, Latex gloves, over-the-counter medications, and a list of emergency numbers)
  • A flashlight
  • Road flares
  • A whistle
  • A map of the area
  • A bag of sand or cat litter (for traction if you get stuck in the snow)
  • A fire extinguisher
  • A can of Fix-a-Flat
  • An extra quart of oil
  • A gallon of water

Bring food and water for the trip

I always like to bring snacks and water for the car ride. This way you do not have to stop as often and you can save money by not eating out at restaurants.

Some of my favorite road trip snacks are:

  • Protein bars
  • Trail mix
  • Fruit
  • Veggies
  • Crackers
  • Cheese
  • Water
  • Granola bars
  • Nuts
  • Dried fruit

Plan your route ahead of time

The last thing you want to do is get lost on your road trip. I recommend planning your route ahead of time and mapping it out with a GPS or online map service. This way you can avoid any unforeseen detours or road closures.

I also recommend making a list of the attractions you want to see along the way and planning your stops around them. This will help you make the most of your trip and avoid any wasted time.

Pack a map and GPS

Even if you plan your route ahead of time, things can still go wrong. That is why I always recommend packing a map and GPS in your car. This way you can always find your way, even if your original plan goes awry.

Having a physical map will be instrumental in areas where there is little to no WiFi or MiFi service.


By following these simple tips, you can be sure that your vehicle is ready for the road trip ahead. So get out there and start exploring all that this great country has to offer!

Happy travels!