Southern Mom Loves: 5 Great Tips for Road Trips {Travel Kid Kits + Summer Car Care!}

5 Great Tips for Road Trips {Travel Kid Kits + Summer Car Care!}

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #SummerCarCare #CollectiveBias

It can be fun planning a summer road trip, but there's more to think about than the trip itself or the destination. Planning should also include preparing your car for the haul to get peak performance, but it doesn't have to cost a bundle and you can do some of it yourself!

I've got 5 great tips for road trips, like checking (and filling some of) your vehicle's fluids, changing your air filter, and switching out those old wiper blades, and I'll show you how. I'll even tell you about some fun kid-approved travel kits! Are you ready for that summer road trip?

#1. Make a Travel Art Kit

Keeping kids occupied in the car can be tricky. If you have a little artist, grab small coloring books, a blank composition book (the kind with the marble cover), and sets of crayons, markers, and colored pencils from the dollar store. Put all of these in a large zippered freezer bag to make your own travel art kit. For more ideas, visit my post 10 Cheap Ways to Keep Your Kids Entertained on the Road!

#2. Make a Travel Snack Kit

Making a snack kit for road trips is easy and will keep "I'm hungry!" at bay. Pick up a craft organizer box for around $5-$10 each (depending on size) at Walmart. These clear plastic, lidded boxes have small compartments that can be filled with lots of little treats like goldfish crackers, raisins, nuts, grapes, dried fruit, and maybe even some chocolate chips or candy.

#3. Check your fluid levels

It's easy to check your own fluid levels and doing so can let you know if your need to service your car or refill it yourself. Your owner's manual can tell you where these are located.

  • Oil - Make sure to have your oil changed regularly. Not doing so can spell disaster for your engine. Even if you've had one in the last month or so, it's always a good idea to check the oil periodically. Make sure your car is completely cooled before doing it. You'll be looking for two things: the oil level and the color/texture of the oil. New, clean oil is amber in color, so if your oil is dark brown/black and thick, you need it changed, pronto. A low oil level soon after being changed and filled could mean you have a leak and need to take it in to be checked out. 
  • Transmission - Low or bad transmission fluid could cause your car to hesitate or jerk when the transmission changes gears. This should be checked while the car is hot. Locate the dipstick, pull it out and check the level (if low, fill with fluid to the fill line, but don't overfill!) and the color (pinkish and almost clear.) If it looks like it has particles in it, take it in to be changed.
  • Coolant - There should be a coolant reservoir (do not open the radiator cap) with a "Full" line. If your coolant is low, fill with the coolant recommended in your owner's manual. Some coolants need to be mixed before adding (half water, half coolant), but some come pre-mixed, so check your coolant bottle before adding. 
  • Washer fluid - This is the easiest one to fill. You can't overfill, so if you open the cap and can't see any fluid, just fill 'er up!

#4. Change your windshield wiper blades

This is so easy to do, yet not a lot of people do it themselves. You can save a ton of money by buying the blades in the correct sizes (ask someone to look up the size/sizes you need, it will be in inches, and sometimes each side gets a different length) and installing them yourself.

  • Pull your wiper blade off of the windshield and turn the blade outward.
  • It is held in place by a clip. Just slide the blade down towards the windshield to release it from the wiper arm.
  • Slide it to the side a bit so you can fit the hook through the hole in the blade arm.
  • Pull the blade up to remove it.
  • Put the new blade in place in reverse. Poke the hook through the nearest blade hole and slide the clip into the hook until it's firmly in place, then replace the wiper arm to its spot on the windshield. Repeat with the other side.

#5. Change your air filter

Air filters are the engine's first line of defense. A dirty air filter can restrict airflow, which can contribute to decreased acceleration, horsepower, and reduce overall performance, and allow damaging dirt and dust into your engine. Changing it can increase acceleration, horsepower, and improve overall engine performance. Doing it yourself is a breeze and it can be installed in five minutes or less with simple tools (or in my case, no tools.)

  • Locate the air filter housing.
  • The lid will be held in place with a couple of clips. Unlatch the clips and raise the cover.
  • The air filter simply sits in the housing, so lift it up and out.
  • Replace it with a clean FRAM air filter.
  • Replace the lid. You may have to shimmy it into place.
  • Re-latch the latches. You're done!

It's easy to find which air filter you need for your car. Check out FRAM air filters at Walmart, enter your vehicle's information, and it will tell you the exact filter that will fit your car or truck.

If you find yourself in a Walmart and want to grab your filter, they have a handy gizmo right in the Oil & Air Filter aisle to help you! Just input your vehicle's information and it will tell you just which filter you need.

They're all in alphanumeric order, so just follow the numbers to the filter that's right for your car. You can find the aisle with all of the Air Filters in the Auto Care section, just look for the FRAM orange all the way down.

FRAM recommends changing your air filter annually or every 12,000 miles, but always follow the recommended change intervals in your vehicle's owner’s manual!

Find more FRAM Summer Car Care tips here, and rest assured your vehicle is performing at its peak!


Are you planning a road trip this summer? Where will you be going? Will you be using some of these tips to get ready? I love to read your comments!

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