The excitement of packing up your car and hitting the open road to see friends and family during the holidays can quickly become frustrating due to the increased traffic you may encounter. USA Today lists the day before Thanksgiving, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Eve as three of the worst travel days of the year. However, other days around these holidays, such as Black Friday and Christmas Eve, will have plenty of travelers on the highways. To help reduce the stress of a holiday road trip, follow these tips to arrive at your destination safe, sound, and full of holiday cheer.
Prepare your vehicle
Before you start packing up your car, you should make sure you have performed some regular maintenance tasks. Your to-do list should include:
- Making sure all your lights are working, including high and low beams, flashers, directional signals, and brake lights
- Inspecting your windshield wipers, and replacing them if needed
- Refilling your washer fluid, and storing an extra gallon in your trunk
- Checking your tire pressure , and adding air if it’s low
- Having your battery checked at your garage or a local auto-parts store
While everyone loves receiving gifts during the holidays, these packages can cause unsafe driving conditions within your car. Never pack items so they block your visibility, and keep any gifts with shiny or reflective gift wrap covered to prevent glare. If you have a cargo compartment on top of your car, ensure it is secured and closed tightly. Never pack valuables in these exterior storage compartments, as they are easily accessible when you make stops. When packing, keep anything you may need on your trip closest to the door.
Check the weather and road conditions
Nothing can throw off your trip like hitting a traffic backup or adverse weather. Before starting your trek, check to see if your route has any weather alerts or traffic incidents. This is also the time to decide which route is right for you; while your GPS may say one route is faster, it may also have detours, heavy truck traffic, and narrow lanes that can cause it to be longer. Additionally, make sure your car has a map if you’re traveling to an unfamiliar area. Sure, technology may have seemingly made maps outdated, but you’ll be happy you have one if you lose your signal. You should share your route with a few people at your destination so they know when to expect you and can prepare if you’re late. While traveling, try to keep your gas tank at least half full to help ensure you don’t run out of gas if you hit a delay.
Be equipped for winter weather
You should always have an emergency kit stored in your car no matter what season it is; you can use this blog to assemble a kit if you don’t have one yet. However, depending on where you live and where you’re driving to, winter travel may require some additional items, including:
- Hand warmers
- Sand or cat litter
- Folding snow shovel
- Tire chains
Driving long distances requires taking breaks at regular intervals to remain safe. Make use of rest stops every two hours, and plan to stay for at least fifteen minutes. Increase your stops if you hit inclement weather or if you’re driving at night.
Keep passengers entertained
If you have younger passengers in the backseat, you should supply them with something to keep them entertained so they don’t distract you. While a tablet or handheld video game may do the trick on a shorter trip, you may want to pack additional items, such as coloring books or games, if your trip will be longer. Download these travel games to help the time in the backseat pass quickly for your passengers.