Station wagon with back door open and luggage crammed in

Summer Road Trip Guide: Tips & Lessons Learned from America’s Summer Holiday Road Trip

By Mercury Insurance Staff

The movie “National Lampoon’s Vacation” follows the Griswold family on a 2,405-mile road trip from Chicago to Walley World, a fictional amusement park outside of Los Angeles, California. Clark, the father, insists on driving “because getting there is half the fun!”

Clark isn’t alone when it comes to taking road trips. The summer road trip is a rite of passage for many Americans. Each year, millions of American families pack up their cars and head out for summer vacations. Before you leave your driveway, however, you should know what is and isn’t covered by insurance.

For example, the Griswold’s Family Truckster – their station wagon – is vandalized, resulting in spray painted sides and stolen hubcaps. The Family Truckster also sustains damage when a food tray at a drive-in burger restaurant is too heavy and ends up breaking the window. Later, Helen, the mother, loses her luggage with all of their credit cards and money. And, just when you think things can’t get worse, Clark crashes their vehicle to the point where roadside assistance would’ve been a necessity.

“Insurance definitely could’ve helped the Griswold’s in these instances,” said Mercury Insurance Vice President of Claims and Customer Experience Kevin Quinn. “A few good lessons we all can learn from watching the Griswold’s is that having the right amount of coverage and knowing what is and isn’t covered is extremely important when you’re on the road. When disaster strikes, insurance can save you money and reduce anxiety in these stressful situations.”

If you plan to embrace your inner Griswold this summer, here are some tips to prepare your home and vehicle before departure.

Secure your home

This starts with having homeowners insurance to protect your home and belongings in case of a burglary or unanticipated loss. Then, before you leave:

  • Lock all doors and windows, including those located on the second floor and higher
  • Activate your alarm system
  • Notify a trusted neighbor that you’ll be away so they can keep an eye on things while you’re gone.

Don’t advertise your plans

Americans love social media. We can’t wait to post comments and pictures of the exciting things we’re doing, especially when we go on vacation.

It’s not just our friends and family who take notice, however. Social media is also a perfect way for burglars to select their next target. Those shots of you posing in front of the world’s largest ball of twine don’t just make for interesting dinner conversation. They also let the world know your house is empty, which makes it an ideal target. While you may want to show the world how you cooked meat with a pitch fork, wait until you get home to share that little beauty.

Prepare an emergency kit for your car

The last place you want to end up with a carload of kids asking “Are we there yet?” is stranded on the side of the road. Stock your car with an emergency kit before you hit the road. The kit should include:

  • A cell phone charger
  • Jumper cables
  • Emergency cones and road flares
  • A spare tire, jack and lug nut wrench
  • A first aid kit
  • Nonperishable food like dried fruit, nuts, crackers, etc.
  • Water
  • Blankets

Get your car road-ready

You may experience high temperatures, winding and uneven roads, or severe weather on your journey, so prep your car for the elements ahead of time. Top off your engine coolant to prevent overheating and your washer fluid to clean off the numerous bugs that will undoubtedly meet their end on your windshield. Check your tire tread, alignment and pressure to increase your fuel economy and protect against preventable blowouts. If possible, carry a spare tire as sometimes the occasional nail in the road or pothole will still prevail.

Speak with your local insurance agent before you leave to make sure your car and home are fully covered while you’re off on your adventure. Then prepare your favorite road trip playlists and games, and enjoy your trip.