Make this Year’s Holiday Road Trip a Stress-Free One

Holiday travel can often be stressful, but it should be fun too. Planning and proper car care can take much of the stress out of a holiday road trip, leaving you free to enjoy the ride.

Checklists for each aspect of the trip will help ensure that nothing important is left behind and that you are safe and prepared in case of an emergency. When it’s time for a holiday road trip, keep these tips in mind for smooth travels.

Check your ride

A complete car check before a road trip should include making sure the fluid levels are sufficient. Make sure wiper blades and the wiper mechanism itself is working properly. Check your lights, including brights, to be sure they are functional. And last but not least, don’t forget your tires. Tires are the connection between your car and the road, so be sure to examine the tread for signs of excess wear.

Be prepared

Equip your car with an emergency kit, including water, flashlight, blanket, jumper cables, extra windshield wiper fluid, cell phone charger and emergency phone numbers for roadside assistance, as well as a contact person at your destination.

Map your route

Check your route in advance and, if possible, plan your trip for times with less traffic. If you are planning to use a map feature on your phone, use the voice component; if you don’t have that, consult a paper map and get a sense of the route before you get behind the wheel.

Safety first

That means the driver focuses on driving. If you are the driver and need to check your phone, send a message, have a snack or tend to a child or pet in the back seat, wait for a rest stop or, if necessary, pull over to the side of the road.

Watch the weather

Especially during winter holidays, knowing the weather in advance can help you plan to avoid a storm. If conditions are truly dangerous, the smart move is to postpone your trip until the weather improves.