With the holidays rapidly approaching, it’s time to start thinking about your holiday travel plans. While you’re working on coordinating sleeping arrangements, finding the perfect sugar cookie recipe, and making sure that you have the perfect gift for everyone on your list (and how to pack them), make sure that you’re taking the time to get your car ready for your trip. While we generally don’t get very cold weather here in sunny northern California, it’s imperative that you make sure that your car is ready for colder temperatures and even snow if you’re planning on doing any traveling this winter. Even if you’re planning to stay in warmer climates, making sure that your car is ready for a long road trip is still very important. Here are some of our top holiday travel tips to help keep you safe on the roads.
Long road trips
Before you head off on a long trip, make sure to take your car in to see a mechanic and have them do a regular tune-up (oil change, filter check, the whole nine yards). Once that’s taken care of, stock your car with road trip essentials: road flares, a good first-aid kit, a couple of rain ponchos, some blankets, the tools needed for changing a tire, and, of course, snacks. Next, plan out your route. Make sure that you know where you plan on stopping, alternative routes in case of accidents, and roughly what time you’ll arrive at your destination.
Dealing with holiday traffic
Nobody likes to deal with bumper-to-bumper traffic, and the holidays are no exception. With so many people on the road, traffic is bound to be heavier than usual, so take that into account when you’re planning your trip. Before you set out, check to see if there’s any construction along the way. It goes without saying that this will slow you down, especially if there are already lots of people on the road, so try to avoid it as best you can. If you’re anticipating heavy traffic, especially around large cities, coordinate your driving shifts accordingly so that the person with the most experience driving in urban environments is behind the wheel when you hit the heavy traffic (unless you’re the sole driver, in which case just make sure that you’re awake, alert, and distraction-free). Remember, safety first.
Driving in snow
Admittedly, this isn’t a problem that we have to deal with that often in California. However, if you’re planning on driving in the mountains or to a place where snow is common this time of year, it’s imperative that you know how to deal with it. Here are the basics:
- It’s okay to go a little slow. Only drive as fast as you feel safe going.
- Brake early and slowly. Remember that intersections tend to be slicker than the rest of the road.
- Take corners like you have a priceless crystal vase on your front seat. Ease into the turn and don’t make any sudden jerks on the wheel; remember, drive slow.
- Add some extra weight in your car. Put a couple of bags of water softener salt or playground sand in your trunk to help with traction.
- Get a snow brush/ice scraper.
- Remember to stay calm. This is the best way to stay safe on icy roads — stay calm, don’t panic, and keep your wits about you.
Wherever you plan on going this winter, we hope that you’ll find our holiday travel tips helpful. Remember, get a check-up at the mechanic, make sure your car is properly stocked, and drive carefully. Happy Holidays!