There’s something quintessentially American about the notion of a road trip. Diverse landscapes, long, open roads, and a sense of adventure all make the road trip one of the most exciting and inspiring vacations that you can have. Whether you’re thinking of going traditional and racing down Route 66, or you’re more interested in a coastal tour, it’s always good to be prepared.
If you’re planning a winter road trip with your family or by yourself, then these road trip tips could save you a lot of stress and hassle. Being prepared is always a smart move, and if this is your first real road trip, these road trip essentials could make all the difference to your experience.
Driving in the winter comes with some inherent risks, which is why preparation is going to be vital. If you don’t want to get caught out, make sure that you start by planning your route in advance. While it’s great to be able to take a side road and escape the well-worn journey, knowing which roads you’re going to be using can help you avoid delays. The weather can be very unpredictable, and you should always make sure that the roads you’re planning to use are likely to be fit for travel over the winter.
Check your Vehicle
If the idea of being stranded and trying to change a tire in a few feet of snow fills you with dread, you’ll understand the importance of doing a vehicle check before you start loading the car. Make sure that you:
- Change your oil
- Check your brake fluid
- Check that all of your lights are working
- Check your heating
- Make sure that your air filter is clean, and change if it’s not
- Check your tire pressure
- Check your brake pads.
These basic checks are vital if you’re making a long journey at any time of the year, but in winter they could be a lifesaver.
Pack for Emergencies
You never know what to expect from a winter road trip, and being ready for any eventuality means that you will be able to relax and enjoy your experience a lot more. Prepare an emergency kit and make sure that it has the road trip essentials that you might need. This includes:
- A Flashlight
- Jumper Cables
- A charger for your phone and other devices
- Safety Triangles in case of breakdowns
- A hammer/seatbelt cutter
- First aid kit
- A tire inflator
- High energy protein snacks
- Extra blankets
- An ice scraper
- Cat litter (for helping with traction if you get stuck)
- A shovel
This might seem like a lot, but most of these items take up very little room. It’s better to have what you need than need what you don’t have, so pack your emergency kit wisely. Perfect your road trip packing list and you’ll feel much more secure.
Get Used to Winter Driving
When the roads are clean and dry, driving is effortless. When there’s rain, ice, and snow, it becomes a lot more challenging. Make sure that you understand some of the best tips from professional drivers so that you make fewer winter driving mistakes. Some of these are common sense, like making sure that you leave extra space between you and the vehicle in front of you. Some may take getting used to. A top tip is to make sure that you have warm, dry, and comfortable shoes, as these will give you a lot more control over your speed and braking than if you’re wearing snow-soggy trainers.
Avoid Busy Periods
If you can avoid rush hour, then do so. Being stuck in traffic when you’re supposed to be enjoying the open road is not just frustrating, it also increases your chances of being involved in a collision. Plan your journey so that you depart every morning when rush hour is over. Not only will you get to avoid traffic jams and chaos, you’ll also get a lot more travel time in too.
While nobody wants to plan for an emergency, you’ll be glad that you did should the worst happen. If you break down in the middle of a snowstorm, you’ll thank your foresight as you pull out a list of emergency numbers. If you’ve pre-planned your route, do some research and make a note of all of the breakdown recovery services en route. Don’t just load those numbers into your phone. You may get stuck somewhere with no signal, and the last thing you want is to spend more time than necessary trying to use a phone booth in the stark midwinter.
Road trips are a brilliant vacation choice, but as with most vacations it pays to be prepared. A winter road trip is truly unique, and you’ll see some stunning sights along the way. Make sure that you arrive back home safely by making the right preparations, and you might end up making it an annual winter event.