Last year’s holiday season wasn’t as festive as most people hoped. With the pandemic looming over everyone’s heads, most of the world was forced to stay inside. But this year is a different story. With more than half of the global population having received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, traveling during the holidays is possible once again.
And for those who are eyeing a holiday getaway without taking risks through commercial flights, opting to take their adventure through the highway is becoming the ideal plan.
With that in mind, here are the six steps you have to take to ensure a safe and enjoyable holiday road trip.
Start with a car maintenance check.
Your whole trip largely relies upon the condition of your vehicle. If you don’t want to get stuck in the middle of nowhere, making sure that your car’s in tip-top shape is a vital step.
Make sure your brakes are working. But don’t just stop with the brake pads. Your brake fluid and wiring are also essential in keeping you and your family safe. It would be best if you also got your oil changed. Any contaminants in the oil and your engine serve as risks. Making sure that all of your car lights are working is also essential. You need to make sure your vehicle is visible and that your vision is evident in heavy snowfall.
And lastly, don’t forget about checking your car battery. It’s commonly neglected and dangerously so. Finding fuel is easy even in small towns. But car batteries are rarer than you’d think.
Winterize your tires.
More than just checking the tread count and maintaining your tires, you also have to go the extra mile and winterize them to ensure your family’s safety.
Winter tires are made of softer rubber compounds that can add more flexibility during intense drops in temperature. The width of their grooves and optimized tread patterns also improves tire traction on snowy and icy roads. All of these mean that you’d be able to have more control on slippery roads, something that’s crucial in winter driving.
Prepare emergency kits.
Keeping your car in the best shape possible is essential. But unforeseen circumstances may still happen. If you get derailed, stranded, and in need of help, having emergency kits will surely make your life easier.
When preparing emergency kits, make sure you consider three things.
- Food and water. Getting stranded in the middle of a freezing night gets worse if you’re hungry.
- Medicine and first aid supplies. Having something to alleviate the pain and prevent the damage from worsening is a life-saver in case of an injury. Pun intended.
- Tools and backups. Having more than one spare tire is ideal. Having the means to replace your tires is mandatory. Having a replacement for any parts that may malfunction will help make your trip smoother. Or at least it would be one less thing to worry about. Your tools can also serve as your protection in case of any artificial threats.
Map it out.
Having a map is a given. Whether it’s digital or traditional, knowing where you are at all times will make the trip much safer. But it doesn’t end there.
Optimize your navigation skills by planning possible rentals if you have to stop. It would help if you also marked emergency centers like hospitals, police stations, and the best pie-serving cafés across your trip. You might not need them, but knowing where they are in case you do, won’t hurt anyone.
Remember to pack light.
Nothing dampens the mood in a road trip more than tight and uncomfortable seats. You want to move around comfortably as you please during long drives. And more than the physical annoyances overpacking brings, it is also bad for fuel-efficiency. A heavier load strains the engine and burns fuel more.
You can always hire professional movers to deliver your things to your destination safely. It’s cheaper if you think about it. The money you’d be spending due to excessive fuel loss can be used to hire them instead. It minimizes the chances of breakdowns which can be pretty costly. And it gives you something priceless as a bonus: comfort.
Check the weather forecast.
The weather plays a massive role in safe road trips. Most people take weather forecasting for granted. What you’ve planned as an easy 8-hour drive could turn into a 48-hour nightmare if you miss the news of a blizzard.
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, changes in the weather cause more than a million vehicular accidents each year. Their data also shows that almost half a million people get injured due to weather-related crashes per year. To avoid being a part of these statistics, check the weather forecast for all the areas you’ll be driving through.