What do these holiday activities have in common – family gatherings, shopping trips, decorating, baking, wrapping and so much more? They all involve some kind of traveling whether it’s driving to the store for gifts, cookie ingredients or wrapping paper, or traveling for hours to spend time with relatives.
The holidays are well-known as a time of year when travel picks up. According to the U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics, the number of long-distance trips increases by 54 percent during the 6-day Thanksgiving travel period, and 23 percent during the Christmas/New Year’s holiday. That’s a lot of cars on the roads and airplanes in the sky.
And if there are two travel factors that are important to you this time of year, we’re guessing they’re staying safe and saving money. Hopefully this list of holiday travel tips can help with both as you get behind the wheel.
Choose the right days and times to travel. Most people hit the roads the day before the holiday and leave the day after. On average, long distance travelers stay at a destination for four days during the Christmas/New Year’s holidays. Try to avoid the rush by leaving and coming back early, or leaving and coming back later.
Get your car serviced before the trip. Things like bad hoses, belts, water pumps and spark plugs can turn a winter road trip south faster than you know it by leaving you stranded. Before you venture out, get all of these items checked at your local auto shop. It’s cheaper than paying for your car to be towed off the side of the road and paying for the fix.
Use your headlights. This is especially important if it’s raining or snowing. In inclement weather, always turn on your headlights. This is not necessarily for your own benefit, but so other drivers can see you. Your taillights will be brighter too.
Check weather conditions in advance. Be prepared for the worst, even if it might not happen. Check the weather before leaving and always keep an emergency kit in your car that includes a blanket, flares, first-aid kit, jumper cables and a flashlight.
Don’t rush. One of the quickest ways to burn a hole in your wallet is by getting a speeding ticket. Avoid this travel damper by sticking to the speed limits and getting to your destination safely.
Take breaks periodically. No matter how fast you want to get to where you’re going, taking breaks is important, especially if you’re tired. Pull over and stop in a safe area where you can stretch your legs. The recommended stopping cadence is once every 100 miles (or two hours).
Bring snacks with you. While it’s necessary to stop and take a break every few hours, it doesn’t mean you have to buy snacks and drinks every time you stop. To save money, bring a cooler or drinks and prepare a few snacks, like fruit, cheese and crackers, or even sandwiches. It’s amazing how quickly food expenses can add up while traveling.
Don’t tell the Internet when and where you’re going. Telling your social media audience you’re leaving for a trip is dangerous – you never know who will decide to take advantage of your unoccupied property. Also, set up timers to turn a few lights on and off and give the impression that you’re still home.
Make sure your windshield wipers are in good condition. Winter can be hard on your wiper blades, especially if ice freezes to your windshield. And remember that windshield wipers should be changed every six months. You’ll know when they need changed – the quality of the wipe will be poor and leave streaks across your windshield.
At the end of the day, staying safe while traveling for the holidays can also save you money, because it’s less money to put into your car. By following these holiday travel tips by keeping your car’s maintenance up to date, preparing for your trip in advance and making wise choices on the road, you’ll be safely on your way to your holiday party in no time. Enjoy!
This article first appeared on Safelite.com