6 Tips for Holiday Road Trips
Be prepared before hitting the road this holiday season.
Travelers filling up the tank for Thanksgiving weekend destinations paid the lowest gas prices since 2008, and the national average on gas prices saw a steady decline through the last 24 days of November. As of November 30, 2015 the average price per gallon is $2.04 with the national average predicted to fall below $2 per gallon by Christmas. The demand for gasoline normally experiences a decline in demand during the winter months. But with national fuel prices staying low, many drivers are reconsidering their holiday travel plans.
Whether you’re cruising across town, heading to work in your daily commute, shuttling the kids to and from school, or foregoing a plane ride in favor of making a long road trip across the state, make sure your vehicle is ready to get you to your destination safely this winter.
Most of us know better than venturing out into the weather without first checking to make sure our vehicle is road trip ready. It’s essential to prepare for the unexpected. An accident or a severe storm can close highways and trap you and your passengers in a vehicle for hours. It’s far better, and easier, to be prepared than sorry.
- Carry a winter survival kit in the trunk
At the least this should include blankets and warm clothing, a radio and flashlight with extra batteries, drinking water and cups, food (particularly raisins, nuts, dehydrated fruit and jerky), reading materials to help stay awake, toilet paper/tissue, nylon rope, a bright red or orange cloth and a sufficiently loud whistle to signal for help.If you’re headed to areas known for cold weather and snowfall, be sure to pack battery booster cables, gas-line antifreeze, a tow rope, a shovel, and a container of sand or cat litter to help give spinning tires traction should a car get stuck on a slick road.
- Stay in touch and be easy to find.
Always carry a cell phone and let friends or relatives know when you’re leaving, the route you’re traveling and your expected arrival time. Consider packing along a car charger for your phone. It might seem like an unnecessary step, but letting someone know where you’re going has saved lives. People won’t know you’re missing unless you tell them you’re headed their way.
- Fuel up.
Start your trip with a full tank of gas and be sure to dress according to the weather. Know the distance between where you are and where you’re going. If possible, plan for an alternate route in case a mountain pass is closed or roads are unsafe due to bad weather. Remember to call ahead if your route changes.
- Drive defensively.
Slow down if conditions begin to deteriorate and leave extra room between your vehicle and the cars ahead. Brakes won’t work as well on slippery roads. Make sure they’re in proper working order before you leave. Visit www.brakesplus.com/brake-services to learn more. Drive with your headlamps on and avoid using your cruise control to maintain quick reaction times for sudden stops.
- Stuck? Don’t floor it!
If your vehicle becomes stuck in the snow or mud along the way, keep your wheels straight and accelerate slowly in low gear. Don’t floor the accelerator. Instead, rock the car back and forth, shifting between drive and reverse gears and holding your forward and rearward most progress with the brake pedal, until you finally get the vehicle freed. Use the aforementioned shovel to dig out a clear path. Keep in mind that overexertion can increase your risk of injury and also make you hot and sweaty. Wet clothing loses insulation, making you susceptible to hypothermia. Be smart and don’t overdo it. Throw sand or kitty litter under your car’s drive wheels as needed to give the tires a dry surface upon which to grip. If the vehicle isn’t freed after several tries, call a tow truck to avoid damaging the vehicle’s powertrain.
- Keep calm and carry on.
If your car suffers a breakdown or the road becomes blocked, turn on your emergency flashers, stay in the car and remain calm. Call for help and advise the authorities of your exact location (having GPS navigation can help in this regard if you’re in unfamiliar territory). Remove the contents of your emergency kit from the trunk and put on warm clothing before you get cold. Wrap yourself in a blanket and run the engine and heater for only short periods. Keep the exhaust pipe clear of snow. Don’t expect to be comfortable and warm in emergency situations. Open at least one window a small amount to prevent carbon dioxide from building up in the passenger cabin while you wait for help to arrive.
Holiday road trips are the source of some of our very best memories. It’s important that your vehicle is in shape for the trip, and that you are, too. Plan ahead and stay safe.
Wherever you travel this holiday season, Brakes Plus, with 71 locations in Colorado, Wyoming, Arizona, Texas, Nebraska and Iowa, stands ready to provide you with great car service. Family owned and operated, Brakes Plus provides free estimates before starting any work, and strives to provide every customer with a positive experience.