It’s official, the holiday season has arrived. Besides your traditional shopping, it’s also time to start prepping for the annual holiday road trip! Whether you’re driving several hours to spend time with family or braving the roads for last minute gifts, you need to be prepared. These 10 simple, but important, tips will help make your holiday road trip a safe and happy experience.
1. Check your vehicle maintenance list twice
Make sure you fully inspect your vehicle before leaving the driveway. To start, you want to ensure all your lights are in working order, tires are properly inflated, windshield wipers are operational, and there is enough wiper fluid for the long road ahead. Keep an extra bottle of wiper fluid in the trunk, just in case. For additional maintenance tips check out our article on how to properly prepare for winter.
2. Avoid fuel hikes at the pumps
Rising fuel prices typically come hand-in-hand with the holiday season so keep an eye out for low prices if you know you’ll be travelling a lot. Try to fill up earlier in the week – generally as the week progresses you will see a steady rise in gas prices.
3. Watch out for speed traps
Just because Santa can break speed records as he rounds the globe in one night, that doesn’t mean you should attempt the same. The holiday season is prime time for highway patrols to set up speed traps as they look to slow down frantic shoppers and holiday road trippers. It’s best to follow the posted speed limit to not only ensure your safety, but also the safety of those around you – especially when you factor in icy and less than ideal road conditions.
4. Get a good night’s sleep and avoid fatigue
Make sure you get a full night’s sleep before departing on any major family trips. Not getting enough sleep can negatively impact your motor skills, slowing down your reaction time out on the road. It’s best to be well-rested and alert at all times while driving, especially during extended periods of driving. If you find your concentration slipping, take a break, grab a coffee, get out and stretch or go for a brisk walk. When travelling long distances, take turns driving with a passenger. If this is not an option, consider turning the trip from one day to two days, and spend an evening in a hotel to maintain your alertness and energy throughout your trip.
5. Remember to secure your home and vehicle
The holidays are a time for getting together with family, sipping hot chocolate by the fire, opening up presents and…getting burglarized? Unfortunately, yes this is also the time of year when burglaries are on the rise as hooligans and criminals seek to loot homes and cars in search of expensive gifts. As a precaution, it’s always best to double check your locks before leaving your home or car to ensure both places are secure. It’s also a good idea to hide your valuables – draw the curtains or stash your presents in the trunk if you can’t store them elsewhere at the mall or when visiting family.
6. Plan your route
If you’re venturing out on a family road trip be proactive and plan ahead, taking into account local traffic and weather reports. Know your route and arm yourself with a map or GPS in case you get off track.
7. Be prepared for emergencies
With winter weather comes an unfortunate increase in vehicle emergencies. These could come in the form of an accident, a dead battery or a vehicle stuck in the snow. When situations like these occur, it’s best to be prepared – you should travel with a fully-stocked emergency roadside kit in your vehicle at all times.
8. Avoid the rum and eggnog
If you’re going to be driving during the holidays, or any time, don’t drink and drive. This is the season for family get-togethers and company Christmas parties and if you think you might be tempted to let loose with a beverage or two, plan ahead with a designated driver or take a taxi.
9. Leave early
Whether it's a trip to find the family tree or a holiday shopping excursion, remember that the roads will be full of people doing the same thing, and they’ll all be in a hurry. Leaving earlier than you need to not only ensures you arrive on time, but helps alleviate the hustle and bustle during the holidays.
This time of year is the perfect opportunity to celebrate and spend time with loved ones. By planning ahead, driving safely and having a little extra patience when out on the road, you can ensure that this holiday season is a safe and happy one with plenty of comfort and joy.