The holiday season is one of the most joyous times of the year. This is the season when we try to take some extra time of to relax, refresh, and spend quality time with our loved ones. In a typical year, millions of Americans would be traveling by car, bus, plane, or another mode of transportation to get together with family and friends.
Travel might be scaled back some this year because of COVID-19, but a lot of people still plan to visit relatives and friends and try to make the most out of the circumstances we are in. This could mean driving across town or driving or riding to the airport to catch a flight, or it could mean going on a long holiday road trip.
If you are one of those who is planning to take a trip and drive a significant distance this holiday season, it is important to take steps to prepare for a safe journey:
Get your Vehicle Inspected and Serviced
Before you go on a long road trip, you should always make sure that your vehicle is in good repair. Here are some important things you should do to make sure your vehicle is ready:
- Change the oil and top off all of the other fluids.
- Make sure your tires are properly inflated and have plenty of tread depth.
- Have your battery inspected to make sure it is charging properly, and clean off any corrosion that has built up within the terminals.
- Make sure your wiper blades are in good working order and replace them if they are damaged or worn.
- Check your spark plugs to see if you are due for a tune up.
- Have your brakes inspected to ensure that there is plenty of wear left on them.
Prepare a Vehicle Emergency Kit
Put together some items that you will need in case you have an emergency such as the car breaking down. Consider the following items for your emergency kit:
- Water and snacks
- Jumper cables
- Warm clothing, hats, and gloves
- A flashlight
- A first-aid kit
Pack Plenty of Hand Sanitizer
When you stop off to eat, fuel up, or for restroom breaks, you will be touching a lot of surfaces that have been touched by others. We have obviously heard a lot about the risks of contracting COVID-19, but keep in mind that it is also flu season during the winter months, and the flu is very contagious as well. To help keep yourself and those traveling with you healthy, make sure everyone cleans their hands frequently with antibacterial sanitizer.
Plan your Route Ahead of Time
It is always good to know where you are going and how you are going to get there before you start out. It is also important to know some alternative routes in case you encounter road construction, a road closed, or a major traffic slowdown because of an accident. Look at two or three different routes before you leave and load them into your navigation system, so you will be ready to adjust your route if necessary.
Prepare for Adverse Weather Conditions
Check the weather report ahead of time for the areas in which you will be traveling. If you are staying in the Southeastern US, you are not likely to run into any heavy snowstorms, although it has been known to happen. But you could encounter heavy rain, high winds, or even freezing rain. And if you are traveling to one of the northern states, then you could easily run into any type of winter weather. Be prepared for inclement weather if it is in the forecast, and be ready to slow down and drive very carefully when you encounter it.
Get Plenty of Rest Before Heading Out
Before you head out for a full day of driving, be sure you have enough sleep the night before. For an average adult, this means roughly seven hours of sleep. Driving long distances can get very tiring, but you need to have enough rest to stay alert and drive safely. If you do start getting tired, pull into a rest stop or gas station to take a nap.
Keep your Cell Phone Fully Charged
You never know when you might have a problem on the road, and the last thing you want is to have your phone run out of battery. Before you leave, make sure your phone is fully charged, and it is also a good idea to have it plugged into a charger in your car as you are driving. On a related note, do NOT use your phone to send a text or do any other type of electronic messaging, let one of your passengers handle that (if you have passengers).
Review your Roadside Assistance Information
If your car breaks down in the middle of nowhere, you will want to have an emergency roadside assistance service available to come and help you. If you do not already have this service, purchase it from your insurer or through an outside company like AAA. Finally, locate the phone number for your roadside assistance and load it into your contact list on your cell phone. Having this phone number readily available will save you from a lot of stress and anxiety if you end up needing it.
Happy holidays from all of us at Hedge Copeland! Stay safe out there and enjoy this most wonderful time of the year with those closest to you.