If you are one of the millions of Americans who will be traveling during the holidays, you know how important it is to prepare.
Whether by car, bus, train, or plane, you can never be too prepared.
If you are traveling by car, make sure your vehicle is up to date on maintenance. Even if the car and tires have been inspected, keep roadside assistance contact information with you.
Bring a spare tire, carjack, jumper cables, and an ice scraper to prepare for anything the winter weather may throw at you.
To be safe, have a portable phone charger, car charger, and first aid kit. Packing a roadside emergency kit may prove extremely useful in the event of an emergency.
Not only should you prepare your car, you should prepare yourself. Know how to drive your vehicle if roads become icy.
Traveling during the holidays in light snow or snow flurries is just as dangerous as driving in a heavy snowstorm. Over half of all snow-related fatal car accidents from 2015 to 2017 happened without a National Weather Service advisory warning.
Slow down, leave plenty of room behind cars, and put your hazards on if needed. If roads are too hazardous, pull into a hotel and wait until the roads have been sanded and plowed.
Salt used to melt ice will cloud your windshield as you drive, especially if you are driving on the highway, so make sure you have enough windshield wiper fluid.
Don’t rely on gas stations to clean your windshield, you’ll be stopping every five miles and they tend to run out of fluid.
Leave early for your destination to avoid traffic and to allow extra time if weather gets bad.
It’s better to take it slow and be a little late then to speed and risk your life and the lives of other drivers. Plan your route before you leave and plan alternate routes.
Staying alert and awake can be harder on winter road trips, as the cold bleak sky and barren trees tend to blend together into one monotonous blur.
Stop frequently at rest stops and stretch your legs. Have snacks and water bottles on hand. Drink lots of water, even though that may mean making frequent bathroom stops.
It’s better to be a little inconvenienced then to lose focus while driving due to fatigue.
Staying hydrated is important to prevent you from getting tired and getting headaches. Coffee and energy drinks are actually dehydrating, which can end up making you more tired.
If you are taking a train or bus, you don’t have to worry about staying awake, but you do have to worry about germs.
The holiday season is also flu season, and there’s nothing worse than giving your friends and family the gift of influenza. No one likes planning perfectly for a trip and spending the whole time quarantined in a room.
Of course, our own cars can be extremely dirty and should be thoroughly cleaned before and after long road trips, but we are immune to our own germs.
On buses and trains, we are exposed to the bacteria of strangers. Armrests and door handles are germ hotspots.
Carrying hand sanitizer that is at least 65% alcohol is a good way to go, but the most effective way to kill germs is by washing your hands with soap and warm water.
Get a flu vaccine if you haven’t yet and avoid touching your face and biting your nails. Bacteria can stay in the air for 45 minutes after a cough or sneeze, so do your part in covering your mouth.
Although the flu can be spread through touching an object that an infected person has touched, its more commonly spread through skin to skin contact.
Save those hugs and handshakes for your relatives and don’t touch strangers.
If you are flying, germs are still a concern, as is the need to arrive early and anticipate delays. Purchase trip insurance, especially if a snow storm seems plausible.
Avoid traveling during the busiest days and times. The best times to travel are really early or really late, and the day before Christmas Eve will be the busiest travel day.
If traveling with kids, keep them close and warn them to be aware of their surroundings. It can be easy to get lost in a crowd.
Give a relative or friend your flight information and trip itinerary.
Photocopy your passport and other identification in case something happens to your original documents, and either keep the photocopies with you or give them to a friend.
Always write your name, address, and phone number on your luggage.
Whether traveling by air or by road during the holidays, take measures to keep your home safe while you are away.
If you have a security system, make sure that it is working properly.
Tell a neighbor you will be away so that they can monitor your home and report to you or the police if they notice anything suspicious.
Lock up anything of value.
Turn off all the lights (including your Christmas lights to save energy).
Start planning now so you can have a safe and fun holiday!