Want to put your Christmas plans in perspective? According to AAA’s yearly holiday travel forecast, an estimated 93.3 million Americans will travel more than 50 miles from their homes this holiday season. 90% of those trips will be by car, and 54% of those road trips (you still following the math?) will be undertaken by just one or two adults. See if you can calculate how many cars that puts on the road between December 22nd and January 1st.
Add to those fun numbers the possibilities of nasty weather, drunk drivers, car trouble, and carsick children, and you’ve got tons of reasons to be extra prepared this December. In terms of peace of mind, a little planning can go a long way. Take these precautions, and turn your Grinch-y road trip into a jingle-all-the-way adventure.
- Car maintenance – Before a long trip, be sure everything’s working properly on the car and check fluid levels. And a quick wash might seem counterintuitive before a snowy haul, but clean headlights will help you see in dark or stormy weather (and help others see you).
- Route plan – Know where you’re going and which route you’re going to take. Share your route plan with a friend or family member, and let them know when you expect to arrive. Mostly importantly, stick to your route, insofar as weather and traffic allow, and don’t take shortcuts or change your plans without telling anybody!
- Emergency pack – Aside from the typical travel luggage, be sure you make room in your car for a substantial emergency pack. Consider the possibility of being stranded in your car, and keep enough of the right things on hand to sustain everyone in the car—especially food, water, blankets, medications, and a first aid kit. A phone charger is an absolute must. And don’t forget car maintenance items, like jumper cables, snow chains, roadside assistance numbers, and a headlamp (ever tried changing a tire in the dark?).
- Weather – Plan around bad weather. Check the forecast well before your trip, and build extra hours into your travel plan to accommodate unexpected bumps. Ideally, allowing a window of a few days when making travel plans can help you avoid dangerous storms.
- Fatigue – Drowsy driving puts everyone in your car at risk, even if you don’t actually fall asleep. A sleepy driver’s reaction time slows down and their awareness of their surroundings decreases. Beat the odds by taking a lot of breaks, staying hydrated, and singing Christmas carols at the top of your lungs.
And, for a bonus round, here are three quick tips for air travel:
- Delays – Basically, plan on them. Carry on as much as possible, in case you can’t get to your luggage for a while. Keep things like meds, toiletries, a change of clothes, snacks, and cash handy.
- Communication – Keep friends or family informed of delays, canceled or missed flights, or changes in your plan. Again, a phone charger will be a life-saver.
- Kids – The two biggest travel-meltdown inducers are hunger and boredom. Stave off tantrums by packing high-protein snacks and an assortment of books, small toys, or games. These Airplane Travel Games for Kids and these 50 Ways to Keep your Toddler Busy are genius.)
Vacations, road trips, and all sorts of other activities make this holiday season a magical time of year. Drive smart on the roads and factor a few extra hours into your travel plans to get to your destination safely this season!