Road Trip Tips for the Holiday Season

snowy roads during winter

Estimated reading time: 8 minutes

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Introduction

In recent years, holiday travel has changed significantly. People are choosing to ditch the quick hop on a plane and opting for a family road trip in their car to avoid the crowds and any restrictions. If you’re hitting the road this holiday season, it pays to be prepared. 

From check-ups, tires, the best apps, and maps, keep reading for some of the best travel road trip tips. Gear up for your holiday adventure with SGT Auto Transport’s road trip tips that promise to sprinkle festive magic on your journey.

Take Your Car in for a Full Tune Up

When you’re taking your car on a long road trip, your car has the potential to be your best friend or your worst enemy. If you want to increase the chances of your holiday road trip being a positive experience, schedule a full tune-up a week or two before the big day. 

Have a professional you trust check your oil and tire pressure and make sure the battery, brakes, and engine are in good working order. This will keep you from finding yourself stranded on the side of Route 53 or calling AAA for their friendly assistance after a few hours into your trip.

Check Your Driver and Safety Assists

Make sure all the driver assistance systems are turned on as they will help make your road trip safe and sound. Switch on the lane-departure warning, rear cross-traffic alert, blind-spot monitoring, forward-collision warning, and other systems. 

Check the Weather Report

Knowing the weather conditions in the place you’re going to visit is essential for a safe trip. You should also check the road conditions before your departure so you can plan accordingly. 

An excellent resource for checking the weather is the Federal Highway Administration’s website.  

Get Your Home in Order

You’re likely going to be leaving your house empty for many days or even weeks, so there are some things you need to take care of. Arrange for someone to collect your mail, and take care of your lawn, garden, and house plants. If you want complete peace of mind, consider installing a home security system before you leave. 

Download Maps, Entertainment, and Road Trip Apps

When you’re on the road, data charges will soon add up when you use Google Maps, Spotify playlists, and Netflix, and keep up to date with your Facebook newsfeed. You can avoid the majority of any data charges by downloading everything you need over Wi-Fi before you leave.

Downloading your maps in advance means you won’t need to have to use any data to navigate. The same applies to your Spotify playlists and any movies or shows you need to keep your young road-trippers entertained. 

You can also control how much data your apps use and prevent photos from loading in your feed until you’ve got a Wi-Fi connection. 

Some useful apps you might want to download include:

  • Waze for real-time traffic updates
  • GasBuddy for finding gas and comparing prices
  • Recreation.gov for managing campground reservations 

Remember Your Tech Accessories

If you want to stay online and in control, remember to pack your car phone charger. Also, make sure there’s a place to put your phone, so you can check directions without looking down or fumbling. 

Keep an Old Pair of Tube Socks

Use an old pair of tube socks to protect the windshield wipers from ice and snow. Once you reach your destination, slip a sock over each one after pulling the wipers away from the windshield. This makes it easier for you to clean the windshield the next morning.

After you scrape the windows free of snow and ice, take off the socks and return the wipers to their normal position.  

Snacks and Drinks

Whichever route you take, whether it’s one of the most famous USA routes or some lesser-known trail, the chances are there will be gas stations and fast food joints along the way. However, a trip fuelled by burgers, fries, candy, and chips will soon get boring. Pack a cooler with pre-cut fruit and veggies, sandwiches, nuts, and some other healthy snacks. Also, make sure you’ve got plenty of water to keep you hydrated. 

Make Sure You’re Comfortable for Driving

Always drive in comfortable, loose-fitting, and breathable clothing, never in bulky jackets or boots. 

Wear your heavy coats and boots out to the car, but take them off before you drive away and swap for something more comfortable. Taking them off while you’re racing along Route 66 at 70 mph might be a little scary for your passengers.

Pack Safely

If you’re traveling with gifts, it’s best not to advertise that your car is filled with shiny new things. Keep those gifts out of sight as much as possible. 

Use in-vehicle storage compartments, the trunk, or if you’re driving an SUV, keep the packages in non-see-through garbage bags rather than bags with store logos and throw a blanket over the whole thing.  

Keep Organized

You’re going to be spending a significant amount of your time in the car during your road trip, and things will get messy real quick. A seat-back organizer will be a great place to store wet wipes, paper towels, and hand sanitizer. You might also find one with a trash compartment, tissue holder, and a place for stowing water bottles. 

When you’re packing your car for your road trip, make sure the items you’ll use during the drive are more accessible. 

Plan Everything

One of the biggest advantages of taking a road trip is the flexibility of the whole experience. You get the freedom to stop, explore, and reroute any time you feel like it. That being said, it’s a good idea to plan out your trip, making sure you leave room for spontaneity. 

You can always deviate from your plan, but if you do some research ahead of time you’ll get the most out of your trip. 

A road trip is all about the journey but detours and unexpected stops often make the most memorable moments. 

Make Frequent Stops

You’ve probably got a final destination in mind and while it might be tempting to drive right through, think of all the things you’ll be missing along the way. Highway attractions and side trips are a big part of road-tripping.

Another thing that many people forget is stopping enough times to stretch their legs and walk around a little. For the driver, it makes sense to stop once every hour to move around and stretch. It will help keep the mind fresh and focused on driving safely. It just needs to be a quick stop for getting gas or grabbing a coffee. 

Then every four to five hours take a longer 30-minute break. According to the Journal of Safety Research, 30 minutes is sufficient to help fight against fatigue during longer road trips.

Stay Alert and Follow Traffic Laws

Often, the Department of Transportation will instate situation-specific laws that you must abide by in treacherous weather. Such regulations include using traction tires and chains when crossing snowy passes. 

Pay Attention to Your Surroundings

When you’re driving on unfamiliar roads, you must pay attention to your surroundings at all times. Keep your eyes open for hazards such as debris on the road or potholes that can damage your vehicle or cause an accident if not avoided. 

Also, pay attention to other drivers as they might not be following the rules of the road. Always give yourself plenty of space between cars so that if someone else makes a mistake there’s enough room for you to react safely without putting you and your passengers at risk of being involved in an accident.   

Be Prepared to Change a Flat Tire

Before you leave home, make sure you’ve got a fully inflated spare in your car together with everything you need to put it on. That means a jack, lug wrench, and possibly even the owner’s manual. 

If you haven’t got a spare tire in your car consider buying one and all the necessary tools. It’s better to have one and not need it than to need a spare and not have one. 

A tutorial on how to change a flat tire might also be useful if you’ve never done it before. Needing to rely on a Google search won’t be much fun in the middle of nowhere. 

Make Sure You’ve Got an Emergency Kit

Don’t leave home without preparing for some of the more common road trip mishaps. Make sure to pack:

  • A flashlight with extra batteries
  • A tire pressure gauge
  • A car battery charger or a spare battery
  • Jumper cables
  • Extra water
  • Some energy bars
  • First aid essentials such as pain relief, bandages, and scissors

Communicate With Your Loved Ones

Let your friends and family know when you leave, the route you’re taking, and how long you expect to be on the road, depending on the current weather. 

If the road conditions are worse than you thought, and you end up stranded, your loved ones can start a search to find and rescue you sooner if they know roughly where you’ll be. 

Keep your phone on the charger, even if you don’t have reception, as you may be able to get emergency alerts even without full data support. 

Not Sure It’s Safe to Take Your Car?

You might consider an upgrade and trade in your car for a safer model. Check with your local dealership to discuss the cheapest and safest cars to own for holiday road trips. 

Another option is to ship your car using a reliable auto transport company like SGT Auto Transport. Get in touch to ask about prices and make your booking. You can reach our shipping agents at (864) 546-5038 or via Live Chat.

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