Not every American travels for the holidays, but a vast majority of us do at least a little bit of holiday driving each year. According to a Pew Research study, nine in 10 Americans celebrate the holiday of Christmas, and that means lots of celebrations across the country. AAA estimates that around 95 million Americans will hit the road this year to travel a wide range of distances to visit family and friends. But unfortunately, this is also one of the most dangerous times to be on the road.
Here are some holiday travel tips to help you prepare for the weeks ahead and enjoy the holidays with a little less stress.
Get Enough Sleep
If you’re like many Americans you have a habit of shopping for Christmas presents at the last minute, staying up all night to wrap them, and cramming in long hours at work to prepare for a few days off. If you’re planning to drive this holiday season, make sure that you have gotten enough sleep to feel alert on the road. Drowsy driving can be as dangerous as drunk driving, so take frequent breaks and share driving duties with your passengers if you start feeling sleepy.
Bring Entertainment for Your Passengers
Whether you’re driving with kids, pets, or even adults with short attention spans, make sure that everyone is contained and entertained before setting off on a long drive. Make sure that kids are properly buckled into their car seats and have all the snacks, juice, and games they need to not feel restless. If you’re traveling with your pooch, give him a bone to chew on to keep him occupied for a while. If everyone in the car is kept busy, you’ll be less likely to become distracted or lose focus behind the wheel.
Choose Less Busy Days, If Possible
Unfortunately, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and December 26th are the most popular times to be on the road, and also the most dangerous. If possible, plan to depart a day or two early and delay your return for a day or two as well. Not only will you likely have less congestion and safer driving conditions if you do so, you’ll also suffer from fewer excruciating traffic headaches.
Watch Out for Weather Conditions
In many parts of the country (and New York is certainly no exception) holiday travel often means bad weather travel. Watch the weather reports before you depart on your holiday journey so you can plan ahead. If the weather conditions are unsafe, delay your trip and consider paying your friends and family a New Year’s visit instead.
Prepare an Emergency Roadside Kit
Even with the most carefully orchestrated planning strategies in place, emergencies still do happen. Don’t be caught off guard when you’re in a rush and frantically trying to reach your holiday destination. Instead, prepare and pack an emergency roadside kit just in case you experience trouble on the road. In addition to a few tools, make sure to toss flares, blankets, water, snacks, and a cell phone charger in the trunk before your trip.