Airports are an absolute nightmare during the bustling holiday season, which is one reason many people choose to travel by car to celebrate with family and friends instead. But preparing for a road trip involves more than just loading up the presents in the trunk and gathering snacks and your favorite tunes. Before you rev up the engine and hit the road, take a look at the following holiday road trip safety tips:
Tip #1: Service your vehicle
Flat tires and breakdowns are stressful enough close to home. When you’re hundreds of miles away—or worse, dozens of miles from civilization—and in desperate need of a mechanic, such mishaps can be as disastrous to your peace of mind as they are to your wallet. So before you depart, have your car looked over at a reputable San Diego auto service shop. With your brakes, wipers, sparkplugs, and fluid inspected (including a fresh oil change), you’ll not only reduce your risk of a breakdown, but you’ll also be in a better position to avoid accidents as well.
Tip #2: Pack a survival kit
Even if you’ve had the best car maintenance in San Diego, there are no guarantees against breakdowns, especially when harsh winter weather is involved. In order to prepare for the worst, pack a survival kit with the following essentials:
Extra jackets, boots, socks, hats, scarves, and gloves
Blankets or sleeping bags
Flashlight and extra batteries
Water and energy bars
Tow chain or rope
First aid kit, including a pocket knife
And of course, if you haven’t already signed up for a roadside assistance program, the moderate investment is worth it.
Tip #3: Invest in accessories
Road trips and music go together like peanut butter and jelly, and while your sub-par stereo system might be adequate for half-hour commutes, a quality car audio experience is a must for trips that take hours (or days). So why not give yourself an early present and invest in a new stereo, satellite radio, or Bluetooth integration system? Having the company of your favorite radio stations while everyone else in the car is sleeping might be just what you need to stay awake yourself. Another accessory idea for long road trips: window tinting to block UV rays from overheating your car’s interior and damaging your skin.
Tip #4: Share your route
Cell phone coverage is wider than ever before, but there are plenty of dead spots still lingering in the US, especially on long, unpopulated stretches of highway. That’s why it’s important to map out your route well in advance so you don’t need to look up directions. It’s even more important to share your route with the people at your destination—and check in along the way—just so everyone has a general idea of where you might be.
Tip #5: Prepare for poor conditions
If you’re heading somewhere snowy, be sure to bring tire chains and an ice scraper and check the expected weather conditions before you leave. Even if you’re not expecting typical winter weather, still plan on heavy traffic to factor into your arrival time. And no matter where you’re going, it’s always a good idea to check for closed roads, impassable bridges, or any other potential detours that may not show up on maps (or satellite GPS).
Tip #6: Limit driving time
While you might want to arrive at your destination in record time, it’s not a good idea to try to power through the whole trip on your own. Plan on pit stops every two to three hours to stretch, clear your head, and switch drivers if possible. And if your destination is days away, reserve overnight accommodations in advance. Desperately searching for a hotel or motel with a vacancy late at night is a recipe for unneeded holiday stress.
Tip #7: Keep distractions at bay
Bored, fighting kids are more than annoying—they can also be a dangerous distraction, especially when the driver needs to focus on inclement weather or rough traffic. So make sure the kids are loaded up with entertainment and snacks for the duration.
Minimal risk, maximum fun
Road trips aren’t just a way to get from Point A to Point B. They can be fun, memorable experiences for the whole family if you prepare for and minimize any road risks you might encounter. This year, stop in to see us at QWIK Auto Center before you head out for your holiday road trip. We have a huge selection of car audio and video systems to choose from, plus professional window tinting services and the best auto repair in Pacific Beach. So give us a call today and let us know how we can help make this your best (and safest) holiday season ever!