Believe it or not, the end-of-the-year holidays like Hanukkah and Christmas will be here in no time. That means a ton of travel, putting many cars on the road. Whether it be coming home after a long semester and final exams or packing the family up to go to grandma’s house, people will be driving more this holiday season. So be prepared.
Below is a handy list of things to make sure you remember to do before hitting the road.
Before You Go
Car Maintenance – Making sure your vehicle is tuned up and ready to drive is important before your trip, especially for long drives. Luckily, the myCARFAX app helps to keep track of service history so you can easily check the status to be assured that your car is ready for the trip. Remember to check oil, fluids and tire pressure are a few things to double check are all full and ready to go.
The easiest thing to do if you do not feel comfortable checking these things yourself is to take it to your auto repair shop of choice and tell them you will be driving a lot this holiday and need service.
In addition to the tune up and oil changes, it is good to put some gas treatment in the gas tank to improve the quality of the gas and help clean the fuel injectors and intake valves. Credit my dad for that recommendation. He adds this to my car before I leave for any kind of road trip. Thanks Dad!
Up to Date Credentials – Now that the car is ready to go, having an up to date and valid registration that is not expired and proper insurance is imperative. This also goes for your license as well. It sounds obvious, but it is always good to check as things like this sometimes go forgotten!
Accessories – Before leaving, think of everything you could possibly need. Things like ice scrappers, jumper cables, and roadside emergency kits are not always needed but extremely useful if necessary. Also, checking to see the roadside emergency kit is fully stocked and not missing anything is important. If you are traveling in the colder states, extra preparation for inclement weather is important. Remembering things like de-icers, Cat Litter (for if you get stuck in the snow) and a shovel (if it fits). See also: Winterizing Your Car.
Packing the Car – When packing the gifts and the luggage into the car, make sure to be cognizant of the rear view. Having visibility to surroundings while driving is important, especially with increased cars on the road. Make sure that if hanging things in the back, they are placed behind the driver to not block visibility outside the passenger side windows. In addition to visibility, make sure to avoid distractions. Make sure things are secured tightly and not moving around causing a loss of attention on the road.
Cleaning the Car – If you are lucky enough to experience a White Christmas, make sure to clear the entire car of snow before departure. Having snow on the top, hood or truck of the car can fly off while driving and be detrimental to motorists around you, especially on major roads and highways.
Know Where You Are Going – Whether you are going home and have driven the route a thousand times or are going somewhere new and need directions, make sure to study up on where you are going. Be generally aware of where you are going so the roads you need to take sound familiar. Then, have GPS apps like Google Maps or Waze to help guide you to your destination.
Secure The Home – Just before getting into the driver seat, there are things to check within the house. Make sure to set the heat at a lower setting, unplug appliances and set any security systems that you may have. It would also help to coordinate with your friendly neighbors if they are staying home, so they can help with the mail and keep an eye out on your home for you!
On The Road
Leave Plenty of Time – Leaving yourself plenty of time to get from point A to point B. Rushing could cause aggressive driving and higher the risk of something going wrong. Not to mention could increase the chances of speeding and tickets and that is a gift not worth getting this holiday.
Driving in Traffic – Stay extra alert when driving in traffic. If you stayed up too late cramming for your last final or feel too sleepy, do not let the traffic lull you to sleep. If that is the case pull over to rest or pull into a convenient store and get some caffeine!
Also, when in traffic, remember it is the holiday season, so be nice to the car that is trying to nudge in front of you and let them in. Creating a zipper like merging system helps to alleviate traffic issues more quickly.
Don’t Drive Distracted. Finally, driving in traffic can be boring. But refrain from checking your cell phone or responding to messaging. Taking your eyes off the road for just a couple of seconds could result in an accident and prolong your trip to be even longer (or worse). Instead, invest in some audio books or make a good playlist to jam out for the long trip.
A Charge – Charge your cell phone, GPS and/or any other electronics that will be necessary along the way. The last thing you want to happen is you get lost and run out of battery life and are stuck, especially if your trip consists of back roads and isolated areas.
Cash – You never know what is going to happen or what kind of tolls are along your route, so having some cash on you will ensure that you are prepared for unexpected expenses. Using traffic and navigation apps can help map out tolls and unexpected expenses, but it is always good to carry some extra cash just in case!
Blankets – Especially when traveling in cold weather states, it is important to keep blankets in the truck in case of emergencies. Being stuck on the side of the road with no way to keep warm while waiting for help could make a bad situation even worse!
Last but certainly not least, do not forget the gifts… the food… the holiday cookies and all that fun stuff! With all of this to remember, a checklist would be helpful.
Whether traveling near or far, in addition to the above, always remember to drive carefully and get to where your final destination is safe and sound.
Featured Image by Chris Smith via Flikr