With the holidays come holiday travel and that means hitting the road to visit family and friends. We’ve put together a quick checklist to ensure you are ready to hit the road.
First things first… Before you even THINK of hitting the road, schedule a check-up for your car. And don’t schedule the check up for the day before your vacation. Bring your vehicle in a couple of weeks before you are supposed to head out just in case there is anything that needs to be addressed before a long road trip. Parts could need to be ordered, or it could be a job that takes your mechanic more than an hour or two to repair. While at the shop, your mechanic will check the oil, fluid levels, brakes, battery condition, tires (condition and pressure levels), and lights.
A little maintenance you can perform on your own is checking and possibly replacing the windshield wipers.
Okay, your car was in the shop, checked out by your mechanic, and got the green light to hit the road. Up next you’ll want to pack an emergency kit. It’s always best to be prepared. Pack an emergency kit including a flashlight, blanket, first-aid kit, water, and extra snacks. If you are traveling in colder climates or over mountain passes, pack a small collapsible shovel to keep in the trunk.
Get a good night’s sleep. Yes, it sounds simple, but staying up late packing or getting last minute chores done around the house is just going to hurt you when you set off for a long day in the car. If you are well rested, your trip will be more enjoyable. Also, be sure to take regular breaks, don’t just fill up on more caffeine. It’s amazing what a 15-minute cat-nap can do for your alertness. “Pushing through” on a long drive can be very dangerous. Pull over and stop in a safe area if you are tired. If possible, try to stop every 2 hours or so to get out and stretch, you’ll be surprised how recharged you’ll feel after getting out of your vehicle for just a bit.
Plan your trip. Enter your destination into Google Maps, Waze, or whatever your favorite driving app is a day or two before you leave and see how traffic conditions are during the time you plan on leaving. It might make sense to leave late at night or first thing in the morning to avoid traffic. Plan on towns to make stops in for bathroom breaks, snack runs, or meals. Using a GPS app on your phone will help you find alternate routes if there are road closures, track any potential traffic jams, and even give a heads up if there is a speed trap coming up.
Check the weather along your route as well. If snow or high winds are in the forecast, you might want to look at alternate route before you leave home.
Finally, be a safe driver. Obey the speed limit and remember that it’s possible that you’ll be in a lot more traffic than you prepared for. You might even be driving BELOW the speed limit. Take a deep breath and try to keep a positive attitude. Additionally, follow all the universal rules, and don’t text and drive or drink and drive. Be safe, be smart, and have a happy holiday season!