I can’t remember a winter season where we didn’t travel to visit family. Every single year for the past 13+ years we have hit the roads during the holiday season to visit family. As fun and exciting as it is there is a lot that I have learned in that time period in the way of safety tips for our family!
1. Protect yourself online! Find a good program which encrypts your information when accessing public wi-fi – no one wants their passwords or credit card information stolen via the internet while they are traveling! They have both free and paid options so you can choose what best suits your needs.
2. ALWAYS have cash on hand. You never know when you will need it! I know I know, society is all plastic now, but we have surprisingly run into quite a few situations over the years where we couldn’t use a credit card. Whether it’s a cash only toll booth, a restaurant whose machines are down, or a tow truck that only accepts cash – you might not have easy access to your bank and you’ll be glad you pre-planned with a little bit of cash in case of an emergency!
3. Keep extra blankets, jackets, gloves, mittens, and scarves in the car. This is especially necessary for those of us that live in cold states. If you ever have an emergency – your car breaks down in the middle of nowhere, your vehicle flips off the road….anything where you car will not heat and you are stranded it is absolutely dire that you can stay warm enough! We always have a bookbag and stuff it with as much warm things as we can and just leave it in the car every winter. We also pack a bag of snacks that stay in the car in case of an emergency too.
4. Keep the kids occupied. This may sound silly, but especially if the weather is bad (but really anytime!) kids that are fighting and screaming in the back do NOT make it easy for the driver to stay focused on the road! The best thing we ever did was purchase a portable DVD player for road trips. I also always pack a bag of snacks, books, and toys for the kids to stay busy with when we are on the road! If the kids really get that cranky and rowdy that they can’t settle down quickly we pull off the road to take care of them before we continue driving. Make sure you have everything you need reachable from your seat!
5. Tune up your car! Make sure your tires have tread, your oil is changed, you have topped off all of your fluids, and keep any extra fluids and a can of Fix a Flat in your car! Over the years we have had all sorts of crazy issues with car problems on the road and it’s a LOT easier to have the needed car tools and fluids IN your car than having to search out a store or mechanic while you’re traveling!
6. Get a good night’s sleep before your travels!! If you need anything stronger than a cup of coffee to keep you alert on the road consider either pulling off the road at a rest area to sleep or spending the night somewhere! Every time you stop for gas have everyone get out and stretch a bit. And if at all possible try to have an additional driver to switch off with every few hours!
7. Keep your doors locked and hide your wallet/techy gear/gifts. It seems like an obvious suggestion but it’s easy to forget when you’re travelling and just “running in for a minute” to the gas station, restroom, or fast food restaurant. In fact it’s a good practice to even lock your doors just while you’re filling your gas tank! I have even taught my children to hide their tablets, MP3 players, etc. when they leave the car. Whether you stuff them under the seat or put them in a backpack – keep it hidden and away from the doors where it is easy access to be stolen.
8. Think about filling your gas tank when you hit 1/4 of a tank. That may sound a little extreme but it’s a good rule to keep in mind. Especially if you are traveling in a location where gas stations are at a minimum. Remember, many small town gas stations are NOT open during the night and you do not want to get stranded without gas! No one wants to remember a vacation or family trip where they got stuck without gas on the side of the road! It’s better to be safe than sorry!