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The holidays are once again upon us. Yes, it does seem like we just put away the lights and stuffed all our decorations away, but just like that, the holidays are back.

Checklist for safe holiday travel

Before you get caught up in the shopping, decorating and baking though, it’s important to remind yourself that more than likely, you will be traveling somewhere at some point this holiday season. It has inevitably become a part of our holiday traditions and it should come as no surprise that the holiday season is the busiest time to travel, regardless of how you do it.

Which is why it is important to be prepared and safe before you travel this holiday season. For those traveling by car this holiday season, here are some helpful tips to get you through the season with the same jolly spirit you went into it with.

Top 10 Holiday Travel Tips for the Car

  1. Plan your route: You know that everyone is trying to get somewhere during the holiday season, so plan accordingly. Use a tool like Google Maps to plan out your trip and avoid the busiest routes. Also, decide what the best time to leave is. It may be better to leave at night on the way there and in the morning on the way back depending on how long the drive is and when traffic starts to build up in certain areas. Another thing to keep in mind, is alternative routes might also be an opportunity to check out tourist destinations you may off not known about. This is a great way to break up the drive and give the kids some added excitement.
  2. Pack multiple activities for the kids: Keeping the kids busy and entertained during a long road trip could be the difference in you arriving at your destination with your sanity still in tact. Coloring books and books about traveling are a great mix to throw in between electronic activities. Remember, if you are planning on bringing electronic devices, make sure they are charged up, have charging devices available, and or extra batteries. As a backup, download some apps on your smartphone to have just in case all else fails.
  3. Try taking a nap instead of more caffeine: It’s hard when you’re pushing through and think a cup of coffee is all you need to perk up and keep driving, but this is not always your best or safest option. It’s amazing what a 15 minute nap can do for your alertness and ability to drive safe. According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, drowsy drivers are a factor in nearly 17 percent of fatal crashes. So instead of pulling off to grab a cup of coffee, pull off and grab a 15 minute power nap to get you through.
  4. Ship packages before you leave: Instead of trying to figure out how you’re going to pack in all the gifts you’re bringing, try shipping them prior to your drive. This will save you space and headache when trying to maximize your available space. But don’t take up too much room, with any luck you will be bringing gifts home that you will need space for.
  5. Get a cell phone charger for the car: A dead cell phone is useless. If you don’t have one already, go buy a cell phone charger for your car and more importantly, keep it out and accessible. A cheaper option to buying a complete car charger (if your phone charger allows) is to buy a universal USB adapter that plugs into your cigarette lighter. This gives you options to charge any device that plugs into a USB port.
  6. Know the laws: Some states laws can change significantly once you cross the border. Be prepared ahead of time to avoid any unnecessary trouble with the law. For example, those traveling to California are not allowed to bring fruit and vegetables across with you.
  7. Pack food: Buying food every time you get hungry can be expensive. Pack an ice chest full of items to have a picnic along the way. It will save you money and if you pack right, be much healthier for you. It will also give you a chance to stretch, relax, and give your eyes a break from the yellow lines. Also, keep healthy snacks handy for that moment you just need a quick bite.
  8. Wear comfortable clothes: It’s not a fashion show. Traveling by car is not a glamorous event that you need to dress up for. Wear whatever is comfortable, but wont get you thrown in jail when you stop for gas. Believe me, the more comfortable you are, the better off everyone in the car will be.
  9. Service vehicle ahead of time: There’s nothing worse than breaking down on the side of the road with anxious kids and packed car. If you can afford to travel, then you can afford to maintain your vehicle. Take it into your local shop and get the oil changed, check the breaks, lights, tires, and anything else that might concern you before your trip.
  10. Check the weather: Start checking the weather days before you leave. If a big storm is coming in, it might be better to leave a day earlier or a day later to avoid any unnecessary threats to your drive. There’s nothing that can prepare you for nasty weather conditions on the highway, take the high road and be safe, rather than sorry.
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