Many people will choose to drive to their destination this holiday season, making the roadways crowded and congested. To arrive safely and on time as well as stay a step ahead of the rest it is essential to prepare for the trip ahead of you. Check out this list of 10 tips that will put you in the driver’s seat when it comes to holiday travel.
1. Give Your Car a Checkup
Make sure to give your car a thorough once over to make sure it’s up to standards and in good shape. Clean your windows and mirrors and don’t forget to check if your wipers need replacement. The air filter system and oil may require attention and it is always important to check the tire pressure, especially that of the spare tire. Do it yourself a few days before the trip of take it to a garage and have them give it a look, you’ll be glad you did. (Oh and don’t forget to top off the windshield washer fluid, with winter conditions can come the need for washing your windshield frequently.)
2. Plan Ahead for the Trip
Route your trip ahead of time, be aware of alternate routes in case of unexpected emergencies or weather conditions. Although we have some amazing technology in the palm of our hands, it can’t hurt to also bring a map or atlas with you, just in case something prevents you from using your phone. We’ve all been in that situation where we have no service or a dead battery, so a physical copy of a map can end up being invaluable in some situations.
3. Bring Some Distractions
Whether you are driving with kids in the car or not, it may be best to remember to bring some snacks and drinks along with you. It will keep everyone happy and there will be far less arguments because someone is hangry (I’m pretty sure a wise movie character once said, “Hunger leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering…..”). Plus, eliminating excess stops will allow you to get to your destination in a timely manner. If you do have children in the car, it may be a good idea to bring games, a portable movie player or something to keep them occupied and more importantly, out of your hair.
4. Follow the Law
Know the traffic laws in the states you will be travelling through. Some people traverse a number of states during a road trip, so it is important that you have a basic knowledge of each state’s traffic laws as they do differ from state to state. Things like talking on the phone, wearing a seat belt and turning on red can all come into play during a trip. It’s better to be prepared than being stopped for not abiding to the law. Plus a run in with the law usually ends up wasting more of your time and setting you back a few hundred bucks.
5. Bring Some Cash
Make sure to bring cash along for toll charges that you may incur during the trip. You also may want to consider investing in an E-Z Pass system for your vehicle. These devices will allow you to pass through the toll booths without really having to stop, speeding up your on and off ramp times. These devices work in a number of states and the toll gets directly billed to a connected credit card saving you the hassle of digging for change. Check the states you will be travelling in to see if they offer an E-Z pass system.
6. Bring a Spare Car Key
No one wants to be on the outside of their car looking in. I have personally done this to myself and it is quite the hassle. Getting in touch with a towing company or locksmith, plus having to pay them for the service is the ultimate bummer. Bringing an extra key that you keep on yourself at all times or hidden somewhere on the outside of the car, will allow you to avoid being locked out.
7. Schedule Some Breaks
Although you probably want to get to your final destination as soon as possible, it is a good idea to take some breaks during your trip. Stretch your legs, grab a drink, use the restroom or whatever it is that best helps you recharge and get ready for another length of time on the road. It may be a good idea to build this time into your trip so that you don’t forget about it.
8. Keep Your Stuff Charged
Make sure to grab a car charger for the electronic devices you will be using the most. Smart phones, GPS units, tablets, MP3 and movie players all require battery life to work. It’s a good idea to have some way to recharge them when the juice gets low. That way whoever is using them will stay happy, and should you need to use them for something, important they will be ready to go.
9. Be Prepared for Emergencies
Bring a basic emergency car care kit along with you. Things like jumper cables, tire patches, safety cones or even something as simple as a screwdriver can often times be over looked by the average traveler. That is of course, until they need them. Having these objects with you will help prevent lengthy time off the road, help keep you safe and sometimes even let you help out a fellow traveler that may have forgotten to pack the things that you have! (Good Samaritan bonus points! Someone’s going to make that “nice” list!)
10. Save on Gas
Save money at the pump by shopping around for the best gas prices on the way, the best part is, there are smart phone apps that are available to do the hard work for you. Download a few of them and see which one works best for you. Google Maps has recently started showing gas prices inside of their app to Android phone users, but if you have an iPhone, consider using GasBuddy. You can find more information about it in our post: “10 Best Travel Apps for 2015”. Additionally, some gas stations offer cards for frequent users saving you money on each gallon, it may not seem like much, but it will add up.
Remember, relax and have fun.
Don’t stress yourself out by sweating the small stuff. If you follow the tips listed above and complete the preparation, your holiday road trip will be successful and stress free. After all, you are on vacation right? Enjoy yourself and the company of your friends and family this holiday season.
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