The holiday travel season is almost upon us and hundreds of thousands of families will be taking to the roads to spend time with family and friends. Before you hit the road to Grandma’s house, make sure you and your car are ready to make the trip by following these holiday road trip tips below.
Take Your Car in for a Tune-up
Regardless of the type of car you drive or the number of miles on it, one of the first things you should do when planning your holiday road trip is to take your vehicle in for a tune-up. Be sure to take it to a trusted mechanic or the car dealership where you bought it. Some of the things that should be done include:
- an oil change.
- topping off all fluids including washer fluid.
- checking the tires’ tread and air pressure.
- inspecting the battery including the cables and the connections
- ensuring that the windshield wipers are all functioning properly and don’t have any nicks or rubber separating.
- making sure all lights and turn signals are working properly
- cleaning all windows, inside and out
While it can be a pain in the rear to squeeze one more thing in before you leave, it’s better than being stranded on the side of the road.
Pack a Car Emergency Kit
We all hope that our holiday road trips are safe and without any troubles, but sometimes life just happens. Be prepared by dressing warmly and keeping a car emergency kit in your trunk. Some must-have items in your kit include:
- Small First Aid Kit
- Flashlight with new batteries
- Warm blankets
- Enough bottled water and dried snacks for each passenger
- Pocket knife or seatbelt cutter
- Lighter and matches
- Extra windshield washer fluid
- Small shovel
- Snowbrush or scraper
- Warning lights, hazard triangles, or flares
In addition to the above, also make sure you have a spare phone charger and/or battery, and the tools to change or temporarily inflate a flat tire.
Play it Safe
Did you know that the majority of drivers don’t know the number for roadside assistance? While nobody wants to have car trouble on their holiday road trip, it never hurts to be prepared. Whether you have roadside assistance through your insurance or through an auto club, make sure you have the phone number and your account number in an easy-to-locate spot within your vehicle. Put in your glove compartment or some other safe spot where you can easily find it if you need it.
Map It Out. Twice.
I never rely solely on just one thing, especially when it comes to technology. When on a road trip I always make sure to have my route mapped out on both an old school paper map and either my smartphone or my vehicle’s GPS system. That way, I am prepared in case of any technical difficulties. If you don’t have a paper map you can still get them at most gas stations, groceries and convenience stores.
Reserve Accommodations in Advance
Speaking of planning out your holiday road trip route, if you will be driving for more than one day, make sure you reserve any accommodations before you hit the road. Holidays are an extremely popular travel time, so if you’re are planning on winging it—don’t. Book a room in advance so you don’t get stuck driving through the night.
Road trips can be long, tiring, and without entertainment, boring. And, if you are traveling with kids, it can become downright stressful. Before you leave, make sure you pack and plan plenty of activities for entertainment for everyone in the car. Pack some books, download your favorite podcast and music playlist and bring along some road trip games.
For kids, one idea is to let them pack a small bag with a few of their favorite small toys, some crayons and paper, a book, and any tablet or smartphone. There are also all sorts of road trip activities for kids that don’t involve electronics that will help pass the time.
Be Well Rested for Your Holiday Road Trip
Last but not least, the night before you leave on your holiday road trip, make sure you get plenty of rest. And the same goes for anyone else in the car who will be driving. Additionally, if you will be driving for many hours, make sure you have another adult that you can split the driving time with. If not, be sure to stop somewhere safe if you find yourself growing sleepy. Simply getting out of the car and walking around for a bit can do wonders as far as waking yourself up so you can continue your drive safely.
Final Thoughts on Holiday Road Trip Tips
The holidays are a special time to enjoy your family and your friends. Make sure you and your family have a safe and happy holiday season by following this simple list of holiday road trip safety tips.