Christmas road trips can either be fun or disastrous depending on how you prepare for them

Driving during the holiday season is always difficult. You have to account for the Christmas traffic rush. That’s inescapable, wherever you are. You also have to account for the potential road trip to your parent’s house. Don’t forget about the unpredictable weather. Winter season is hitting its stride, and the weather can become unpredictable. The temperature can drop anytime and, if you live up north, the possibility of snow is always a factor. With all that said, you need to be more focused when you’re driving this time of the year. You also need to be prepared for whatever the road and Mother Nature throws at you. So, heed our advice, friends. We’ve come up with a list of tips that you can follow when you hit the road for your Christmas vacations. These tips could be the difference between a nice peaceful joyride or a road trip from hell.

Check your ride

Take Our Advice And Heed These Driving Tips For The Holiday Season
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If you have plans to go on a long-distance drive, you need to make sure that the car you’re using is up-to-task, whether you’re driving alone or with your family or friends. The first thing you need to do is to do a routine check-up of your car. Ideally, you should’ve had your car serviced weeks or months ago, but there are still items that you can check to make sure that you don’t end up on the side of the road in the middle of a snowy night.

Your checklist should include checks on your tires, washers, belts and hoses, filters, battery, lights, and oil.

If you’re driving in a snowy area, snow tires are probably the best way to go. Make sure you top up the washer bottle, too. You never know if snow starts falling and you’re going to need to clean your windshield because of it. In checking the belts and hoses, look for possible cracks in their composition. If you find any, big or small, it’s best to have them replaced. Your battery needs to be checked as well, especially if you’ve had it for a while. Check if the connections are secure, and keep some jumper cables in your trunk, too. You never know if you’ll end up using them, but its best to be safe. Speaking of which, throw in a first aid kit in there, too.

Plan your trip

Take Our Advice And Heed These Driving Tips For The Holiday Season
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You’re not the only one who’s planning a trip for the holidays. Perhaps you’re heading home to your parent’s house, or you’re going on a vacation with your own family. The point is that other families are probably doing the same. Add all of that up, and the possibility of traffic becomes a high-probability. That’s why if you’re going on a trip, it’s in your best interest to plan ahead.

If you’re planning to do a long-distance drive that’s going to cut across multiple states, it’s probably a good idea to leave late at night or in the wee hours of the morning to avoid traffic.

The unpredictability of traffic is less of an issue if your destination isn’t that far, but you should still plan for it, too. Traffic aside, you never know what kind of delays you can experience when you’re out on the road. Be on the lookout for trailers and caravans. Some families prefer warmer climates this time of the year, and they might be bringing boats and jet skis with them. Whatever the case may be, you’re in charge of your own itinerary. Make sure you plan ahead so you can avoid the delays you can avoid.

Stay updated on the weather

Take Our Advice And Heed These Driving Tips For The Holiday Season
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Just when you think you have everything ready for your road trip, Mother Nature throws you a curveball. Snow starts falling and the temperature drops. If you’re not ready for this, you can get stuck on the road with little to no help heading your way. That’s why it’s very important to constantly check the weather while you’re out on the road. If the news or the local radio suddenly warns of inclement weather headed your way, stopping over at a gas station or an inn might be your best option.

If the weather isn’t too bad and you think you can brave it, have enough food and shelter supplies in your car, so if conditions flip on a dime, you’re not going to starve yourself or your family.

Ideally, those long road trips go on without any hitches. But winter can be unpredictable and unforgiving. It’s not the smartest idea in the world to try to dismiss what it can to do you if you’re not prepared. For your own sake, and the sake of your family, carefully monitoring weather conditions during your road trip can spare you a lot of time, effort, and a lot of trouble.

Charge your own batteries

2016 Aston Martin RapidE Concept High Resolution Drivetrain
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It’s one thing to check your cars to ensure that they’re healthy enough to drive for long distances, it’s another thing entirely to ensure that you’re healthy to drive yourself. One of the worst things you can do is wear yourself thin in the days leading up to your trip. It’s understandable because the lead-up to the season can be exhausting. You’re finishing off the last days of work for the year. You’re rushing to buy Christmas presents. Add that to the constant wear and tear that you get taking care of your kids and by the time you’re going to make that long road trip, you’re exhausted beyond belief. That’s a huge no-no. Get a good night’s sleep on the night before you head off. If you’re leaving in the morning, have a hearty breakfast, too. Make sure that you’re alert and focused during the drive.

Long road trips are exhausting and once fatigue sets in, pull over to eat, drink, or rest.

Getting to your destination quickly isn’t as important as getting there in one piece. Drive at your own pace, and if you get tired, you’re not getting any macho points for soldiering on with the drive.

Don’t drink alcohol!

Take Our Advice And Heed These Driving Tips For The Holiday Season
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This goes hand-in-hand with the previous advice. If you’re going to drive during this season, never drive while you’re intoxicated. Not only is it dangerous to you for all the obvious reasons, but it’s also dangerous to the people who are riding with you and just about every other motorist that you encounter. I know there are instances where you’re coming out of a Christmas party, and you’ve had one too many beers or glasses of wine for your own good. This happens more often than you think with all the revelry that happens during these parties.

If you drink alcohol in a Christmas party, it’s very important that you wait until your head’s all clear before you drive to your next destination, whether it’s another party or back home.

If you’re completely intoxicated and you’re in no condition to drive, leave your car, hitch a ride with someone sober, and come back for your car the next day when you’re in a better state of mind. Never ever drink and drive. Not only is it a crime, to begin with, but it’s also very dangerous for a lot of people, including yourself.

Keep the kids engaged

Take Our Advice And Heed These Driving Tips For The Holiday Season
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You love your kids. We all do. But the truth is that bringing children with you on long drives is a challenge in it of itself. It only takes one tantrum for the situation to deteriorate and before you know it, you’re spending more time trying to pacify your kids than you are focusing on the road.

That’s why it’s very important to keep them busy during these road trips.

If your car has rear-seat entertainment, you can slide in a DVD or Blu-Ray disc so they can spend the next few hours tuned in to whatever movie they’re watching. If rear seat entertainment isn’t available, you can play an audiobook, play games, or string them along on whatever road-related games that they can play along. Always be mindful of toilet breaks and hunger pangs, too. The moment your kids tell you that they’re hungry or that they need to take a wee, stop over at the nearest gas station or road-side cafe to feed them. It’s never fun when you’re kids are hungry. They get loud and cranky, and soon enough, you’ll get loud and cranky, too. Avoid these situations as best you can.

Keep your phones charged

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2013 Dart Charging Mat

Long road trips can turn into even longer road trips if you don’t know where you’re going. Worse, you can get lost in the middle of the night, and if your phones are close to running out of your juice, you’re going to find yourselves in situations nobody wants to be in.

This is why it’s important to have a power bank handy when you’re out on those long road trips.

If power banks aren’t available, at least have charging cables available in the event that you end up needing them. A fully charged phone lets you make phone calls to your relatives or friends. It lets you ask for directions that traditional navigation systems get confused by. Most importantly, a well-charged phone means that you have a line of communication available in the event that you encounter a road mishap. In times like this with so many people out on the road, you never know if that’s going to happen to you. Be on the safe side and prepare for that possibility regardless if you get involved in one or not.

Always err on the side of safety

Take Our Advice And Heed These Driving Tips For The Holiday Season
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We’ve all been in this situation before. You see a clear patch of road and the urge to suddenly floor it starts wrapping itself around your head. You push the gas pedal harder than you normally do. Your car suddenly comes to life. You get excited. You do it again. Pretty soon, you’re doing 100 mph on a 60-mph section of the freeway. You think it’s cool to go that fast, but it’s really not. It’s reckless, stupid, and dangerous all rolled into one. What if you get caught speeding? That’s unpleasant, to say the least. What if you hit something? That’s going to leave a mark on your car. What if you hit a patch of ice that you didn’t see and you lose control of your car? That could go in a lot of different ways, and almost all of them ends with you getting hurt or getting somebody hurt.

Even if the urge hits, don’t bite on it.

It’s one thing go fast when it’s necessary to go fast. But if you’re going to do it for the sheer thrill of going fast, I suggest that you hold back on that urge and err on the side of safety. I’m only talking about situations where you’re the only one in the car. If you have your family with you, including your kids, don’t even start to think about it. Not only are you putting yourself in danger, but you’re also putting them in danger, too. Would you be able to live with that if something goes wrong because you wanted to quench your need for speed? I didn’t think so.

Don’t drive all the way if you don’t have to

Take Our Advice And Heed These Driving Tips For The Holiday Season
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This goes back to that whole driver machismo thing. If you’re going on long road trips with the family, you don’t have to do the driving by yourself.

If your wife can drive, she can cover for you for about 30 minutes to an hour as you take a quick power nap to recharge.

You don’t have to stop over in this scenario. You can rest as the car remains moving. Once you’re up and ready to go, you can switch back and take control of the wheel again. Nobody’s going to award you a trophy for driving the distance. Maybe you think it’s cool, but it’s really not, especially if you’re getting sleep or fatigued while driving. You’re not getting points for toughing it out; you’re only endangering your well-being and the well-being of those riding with you. There’s no shame in asking for a swap so you can get some much-needed shut-eye. Just pull over on the side of the road, switch seats, and take a quick nap. You don’t lose time doing it, nor do you lose cool points from your kids.

Focus, focus, focus

Take Our Advice And Heed These Driving Tips For The Holiday Season
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It’s easier said than done, but this really is the most important advice you can get if you’re driving this holiday season. Focus on the road, please. That’s it. You need to focus on where you’re going, no matter the situation. Focus on the road if it’s the daytime. Focus on the road if it’s the night time. Focus on the road if there’s no traffic.

Focus on the road if there’s traffic. Focus on the road if the weather’s clear. Focus on the road if the weather turns.

That last part is very important, especially when the temperatures drop and it suddenly gets too cold inside even with the heater on. Just remember that when you lose your focus even for a little bit, bad things can happen. Stay away from those situations, and you should be able to get to where you need to go without too much trouble. Don’t try to be a superhero and think that you’re immune to all the pratfalls associated with long-distance driving. You’re not. Whether it’s your car, your kids, your surroundings, the weather, or even yourself, there are so many different reasons for you to lose track of where you’re going or how fast you’re going. Always remember to keep a clear head and drive at a reasonable speed. Getting to your destination safely is the ultimate reward for the trouble of driving that long to get there.

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