The 2018 Christmas season will see a record-breaking 112 million Americans traveling for the holidays—roughly one-third of the nation’s population. The vast majority of those travelers (102 million) will be traveling by car. Even if you’re a road-trip veteran, if you plan to join your fellow Americans on the highways in the coming week, now is a good time to think about some of the precautions you may have forgotten or delayed. The most important preparations don’t take much time, and they’ll give you peace of mind on the road.
Take Care of Your Body
If you’re eager to see family and friends, you may want to leave as soon as your last workday ends. However, if you can spare the time, you’ll be happier and safer if you give yourself at least a few hours or even a full day to unwind and set out well rested.
It’s a cliché in comedy to talk about the dad who never stops the car on vacation because he’s “making good time.” You don’t have to be that guy. Take rest stops when you need them. Frequent stops are essential if you’re traveling with kids or pets. Even if you’re going solo, most travel experts recommend stretching your legs every two to three hours to replenish your energy.
Finally, to ensure proper rest on an overnight trip, plan your stopover and book a hotel room in advance. Your reservation guarantees you a place to sleep on a weekend when the roads will be packed, and you’ll be less likely to push yourself to go a few more miles at the end of a long day.
Get Your Car a Checkup
Updating basic maintenance on your car is another one of those common-sense pieces of road-trip advice that often gets ignored or lost in the shuffle of other holiday errands. Winter travel brings unique hazards because of weather, so you want to be sure your tires are in good condition, all your fluids are fresh, and the vehicle is ready to carry you through bad weather.
Stock up on Supplies
While you’re busy packing plenty of healthy snacks and assembling a bag of items to keep the kids entertained, be sure you also have a few extra items in case of a breakdown or emergency. Most of these items are things that should live in your car because they can be handy in all kinds of weather:
- A first aid kit
- Jumper cables
- Basic tools
- Glass breaker/ seatbelt cutter
- Extra phone chargers and cables
- Current maps or road atlas
- Comfortable walking shoes
For winter travel, a good ice scraper, a portable snow shovel, and a bag of ice-melt or sand can come in really handy, even if you just need to get out of a steep driveway. You may also trade out the comfortable shoes for winter boots, on the off chance you end up needing to walk somewhere to find assistance.
If you’re using GPS, set up your route and enable voice directions from your phone speaker or through your car’s Bluetooth connection. Also, when you set the voice directions, be sure to use a voice you can tolerate for the long haul. For example, the Boy Band voice on Waze sounds like it’s going to be fun, but it can get old fast if you’re going through an area with a lot of alerts. We haven’t tried the Santa voice option.
When you’re traveling with kids, the bag of entertainment options for them comes in handy for reducing distraction. Likewise, when traveling with pets, be sure they’re restrained in a harness or crate, which keeps them safe and calm and reduces their chance of distracting the driver.
Choose Entertainment Wisely
Another way to minimize distractions while maximizing comfort and enjoyment is to plan your own on-road entertainment. Make your music or podcast playlists in advance for seamless enjoyment and less phone-fumbling. Audiobooks are also a great way to set it and forget it for long-haul entertainment. Choose something engaging and light. Laughter is an especially good keep you awake and alert. Your road trip may be a good time to revisit a familiar favorite, something to keep you entertained that doesn’t require your total focus since you need that elsewhere.
Happy Travels from The Records Company
We hope these tips help you prepare for a smoother and happier travel experience this season. We wish you a joyful holiday season and look forward to continuing to serve your records retrieval needs in the new year.