The excitement of packing up your car and hitting the open road to see friends and family during the holidays can quickly become frustrating due to the increased traffic you may encounter. USA Today lists the day before Thanksgiving, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Eve as three of the worst travel days of the year. There will be plenty of traffic on highways other days, like Christmas Eve and Black Friday. These tips will help you arrive at your holiday destination safely, sound, and full with holiday cheer.

Prepare your vehicle

Before you pack up your car, make sure that you have done regular maintenance.

  • Making sure all your lights are working, including high and low beams, flashers, directional signals, and brake lights
  • Inspecting your windshield wipers, and replacing them if needed
  • Refilling your washer fluid, and storing an extra gallon in your trunk
  • Checking your tire pressure , and adding air if it’s low
  • Having your battery checked at your garage or a local auto-parts store

Pack safely

While everyone enjoys receiving gifts, they can pose a danger to your vehicle’s safety. Avoid putting items in a way that blocks your visibility. Also, keep gift wrap with reflective or shiny materials covered to avoid glare. Secure and close any cargo compartments on the top of your car. These exterior storage compartments are easy to access and can be used for valuables. Keep any items you might need for your trip close to the door when packing.

Check the weather and road conditions

Nothing can stop you from your journey like a traffic jam or bad weather. Check to make sure your route is free from traffic incidents or weather warnings before you start your trek. You can also decide which route you prefer. While your GPS may indicate that one route is faster than another, there may be detours, heavy truck traffic and narrow lanes, which could make it take longer. If you are traveling to unfamiliar areas, ensure your car has a map. While technology has made maps obsolete, you will be glad you have one in case you lose your signal. It is a good idea to share your route with others at your destination. This will allow them to know when you are expected and help you if you get late. To avoid running out of gas, keep your tank at least half-full while you travel.

Be equipped for winter weather

You should always have an emergency kit stored in your car no matter what season it is; you can use this blog to assemble a kit if you don’t have one yet. Depending on your location and the destination you are traveling to, you may need additional items such as

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  • Blankets
  • Hand warmers
  • Sand or cat litter
  • Folding snow shovel
  • Tire chains

Take breaks

To be safe while driving long distances, it is important to take breaks every so often. You should use rest stops at least once every two hours and stay there for no less than fifteen minutes. If you are driving in the evening or in bad weather, you can increase your stop count.

Keep passengers entertained

If you have children in your backseat, make sure they have something to entertain them. If you are traveling for a short time, a tablet or a handheld video game might be sufficient. However, you might want to bring more items such as coloring books and games if the trip is longer. Download these travel games to help the time in the backseat pass quickly for your passengers.