Any seasoned traveler knows that millions take to the road during the holiday season. The increase in traffic can easily increase the stress levels for most drivers. Safety becomes a concern and with it much preparation and costs estimates for the trip. To ease the stress, as you prepare to travel, here are 10 driving tips, in no particular order, to make the holiday drive that much more enjoyable, a little more affordable, and your travel that much safer.
1. Take a look at a map and know where you are going.
By planning your route in advance you can plan for construction zones, get traffic reports, and weather conditions. A GPS is a handy system to have but bring along a paper map as a backup. GPS systems are only as good as the signal on your phone, and there are still many places where coverage is not possible.
2. Consider a road services membership.
If you are a frequent driver, then you may want to consider membership in AAA, the American Automobile Association. They offer road services to their members all over the United States and Canada, such as free maps, guidebooks or routing maps. Plus they have a great network of accommodations, food and road assistance available at great discounts.
3. Try to avoid tolls.
You can save yourself a good chunk of change by avoiding tolls as you travel. Tolls not only cause traffic backups but can add unwanted or unexpected expenses to your trip. While planning your holiday travel, look for alternate routes to avoid having to pay hefty tolls over roads or bridges.
4. Stick to your travel budget.
Keep track of your expenses. It’s a good habit all around, but especially on the road. There is an old saying—what gets measured gets managed. Once you have a good estimate of the cost to travel to your destination and back, stay within that budget. Instead of stopping to get fast food, pack sandwiches and bring healthy snacks. There are many phones apps now for budget tracking, too, that will help you stay on track!
5. Drive the speed limit.
It will definitely save you money on fuel costs, and certainly prevent any chance of getting fined for speeding. Also, with so much excess traffic and congested areas, there will be times that your traveling will be slowed. Drive defensively, and don’t respond to aggressive drivers.
6. Rest up before you hit the road.
It’s not good to drive tired. In fact, it’s dangerous. Having a good night’s sleep before you drive and stopping periodically during your drive makes for a safe, relaxing drive. You should stop every 2 hours to stretch your legs and walk around for a few minutes. It will keep you alert and can help make the trip more enjoyable.
7. Take care of vehicle maintenance.
If you’re planning on driving several hours or over a hundred miles, you should have the oil changed and make sure a maintenance check is done before you leave. Most oil change shops will do a maintenance check on your vehicle’s lights, check the condition and air pressure of your tires, and look at the belts and hoses, along with the levels of brake fluid and antifreeze fluid, and the battery as part of the service.
8. Consider potential emergency situations.
Always be prepared for any type of winter emergencies. That means keeping blankets, winter boots, extra pairs of gloves, a snow shovel, and a flashlight in the trunk of your car. Don’t park your car with less than half a tank of gas to prevent your fuel line from freezing up during cold snaps.
9. Be sure your home is secured before you leave.
Have neighbors or friends bring in your mail. If possible, ask a neighbor to park a car in the driveway. Leave lights on, or better yet, have a few set up to a timer. Let someone or a few people know where you are going and what time you expect to be there. However, though it may be tempting to tell the world you are out of town for the holidays, you should really avoid posting on social media sites anything at all about your impending departure.
10. Replace your vehicle altogether!
If you have outgrown your car or need a change, consider buying a car for the holidays. Sure, it’s a nice gift for you. Besides that, December is a good month to purchase a vehicle of any kind. You’ve probably have heard that it is better to buy at the end of the month, which is true. However, December is not just about the holidays and the end of the year, it’s also the end of the quarter for dealerships. Incentives to sell are everywhere. All dealerships try even harder to reach sales goals during this period. It’s a very good time to shop for a car.
Finally, relax. A good attitude, along with planning your trip can make the drive less stressful or even stress-free. Reaching your destination in one piece, and enjoying your holiday with family or friends is really what the trip is all about.