There’s no better time to explore the Granite State than during the cosy months, when the leaves are changing and the air is crisp. If you’re planning on hitting the open road this season, here are a few tips to help you get your car ready for an autumn road trip to the White Mountains.
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How to protect your car on a fall road trip
There’s something special about road trips in autumn. Maybe it’s the prospect of the fall foliage, or the feeling of freedom that comes with hitting the open road.
But I absolutely love seeing the colours change on the trees, which becomes a whirl of warm oranges and deep reds when you drive fast around the meandering roads, up into the mountains and through the fields. It’s just the prettiest sight to take in and gives you that main character moment.
Get Car Insurance
However, before you pack up your car and head for the hills, make sure you’re covered by car insurance. Otherwise, you aren’t truly road trip ready. Safety first. (Which I learned the hard way when it came to driving through the outback, which is definitely a step up to a US roadtrip in the fall, but it still applies.)
Autumn conditions can be tough on your car, and if you’re involved in an accident, you’ll be glad you have coverage.
I always make sure to research the insurance upfront and get it covered before I am in the throes of packing.
It does occasionally slip my mind, however, so I’m glad that nowadays you can get insurance cover rightaway with no delays on your road trip. Instant car insurance is available if you’re not already covered.
This is one of the most important things you can do to prepare your car for driving around the White Mountains:
Make sure your tires have enough tread and are inflated to the proper pressure.
It doesn’t even take long to do but it makes all the difference on finding that necessary grip on the road. And depending on how much you’re packing in your car trunk, it really has an effect that you can feel when steering your car. I typically notice it the most with strong winds pushing the car from the sides. Not a fun feeling.
You don’t want to be stranded on the side of the road with a flat tire, especially in remote areas like the White Mountains.
If you’re not sure how to check your tire pressure or tread depth, your local mechanic should be able to help.
Before leaving on a winter road trip, it’s important to check your car’s fluids. This includes the engine oil, coolant, power steering fluid, and brakes.
When you’re doing this anyway, you can include checking the tire pressure and tread depth. Get it all done in one go.
By taking these simple steps, you can help to ensure that your car is able to handle the winter conditions as well for an end of the year roadtrip. The last thing you need is running into trouble and ruining your New Hampshire roadtrip getaway.
One of the most important checks before your US road trip adventure is checking up on and potentially changing your windshield wipers.
Over time, the windshield wipers will naturally deteriorate, so you should definitely check them every couple of months. You never know if something tore into them or if they cracked from changes in weather. Autumn is a key time for the check in.
In cold weather, the rubber blades can become brittle and crack, making them less effective at clearing away rain.
It’s utterly annoying when the wipers just push around the pooling rain drops and don’t do all that much. As a result, you could find yourself with poor visibility during a storm.
In addition, check that there is plenty of washer fluid. If you need to spray your windshield, there better be something to spray or that still works to clear away the dirt and maybe even a slightly icy layer.
By changing your wipers and wiper fluids before you go, you can help ensure that you’ll be able to see clearly no matter what the weather brings. It could make all the difference on your journey.
As part of the regular maintenance, have a look at your car’s heating system. When it’s working properly, it can make all the difference between a comfortable drive and a cold, miserable one.
You can check it out on a test drive (maybe with little lighter clothing than you would normally wear during autumn), to see how it feels.
If you’re not sure how to do that, your local mechanic will be more than happy to help.
A clean car is a happy car, and it’ll make the drive more enjoyable for you and your passengers. And honestly, how often do you thoroughly clean your car? Trick question, it’s never enough.
So see autumn as the second spring clean opportunity to get rid of gross things lurking underneath the mats and inbetween the doors. Sort through the papers and whatever stuff is hiding in the dashboard.
Wipe down all surfaces (so many germs in cars and autumn is prime germ spreading time!). Place a full bottle of sanitiser at the front within easy reach.
Overall, give your ride a good once-over before you hit the road in New Hampshire, and be sure to vacuum the floor mats and seats.
If you’re really feeling ambitious, you can even wash and wax your car to give it a little extra protection from the elements. Treat your car and yourself.
You never know when you might need some extra supplies on a road trip. An emergency and first air kit are absolutely necessary to have.
Now’s a good time to check if everything is still fully stocked, nothing is expired or damaged and you know how to use it all in the heat of the moment. (Brush up on your first aid and emergency training points.)
Your kit should store flares, jumper cables, a first-aid kit, a flashlight (with extra, lose batteries), blanket, and anything else you might need in an emergency situation. It’s always better to be prepared than sorry!
If you’re planning on spending a lot of time in the car, it’s important to have some entertainment options to keep you occupied.
Make sure to bring along your favorite music, audiobooks, or podcasts for the journey. Have a phone cable just for your car, so you can hook it in without it depleting from use of streaming your favourite background soundtrack.
If you’re going on a family trip with kids to the White Mountains, you also need to stock up on plenty of games, snacks and books for the kids. You just know they won’t keep quiet and need the diversion.
You see, it’s not that hard to prepare for a fall roadtrip around New Hampshire. And with a little preparation, you can ensure that your next autumn road trip is a safe and enjoyable one, and you can explore confidently and at ease.
What to do in the White Mountains
Did you know that there’s an official White Mountains travel planner and guide you can get mailed to you for free? Get it here. (But expect it to take at up to two weeks, so order it fast.)
While a roadtrip through the White Mountains offers stunning sights in and of itself, there are specific routes that are known to be most remarkable. This includes the Mt Washington Auto Road in Gorham.
Since you’re in the NH mountains, you can expect activities such as aerial tramways, a cog railway, scenic railroads underneath the fall foliage and mountain cliffs as well as mountain resort wellness and sports offerings. There’s also the option of ziplining and walking on rope courses.
For more adventure-minded visitors, check out the Lost River Gorge and boulder caves in North Woodstock.
Kids and those that just won’t grow up (and I’m definitely not judging, what’s the fun in being too serious?) can enjoy a day’s outing in the White Mountain theme parks, such as Story Land, Whale’s Tale Water Park and Santa’s Village.
If you’re here to hike in the White Mountains, check out Wildcat Mountain. It offers breathtaking views over the New Hampshire’s 48 peaks above 4,000’ and that covers viewpoints over Mount Washington and the entire Presidential Range. Do not forget your camera! There’s parking right by the road at the Thompson Falls Trailhead too, so you can leave your car close to the action.
Did I miss anything? Let me know in the comments.