The holiday season is (hopefully) a time for you to relax, spend time with family, and take it easy for a few days. With that being said, most people also tend to drive over 250 miles to reach their Winter Holiday or New Year’s destinations. A long drive should always include some preparation to make sure the trip is safe and as headache free as possible.
To help you get to your destination safely, we’ve put together some holiday driving tips. Let us know if you have additional ones of your own!
1. How to Choose When to Drive around Christmas
With Christmas and New Year’s falling on Mondays this year, many people will be traveling between Friday, December 22nd through Monday, December 25th to reach their Christmas or Winter Holiday destination. People will most likely be driving during the following times:
- right after they get out of work on Friday, the 22nd
- during the middle of the day on the 23rd, 24th, and 25th
If your drive is several hours, you should plan to leave at a time that limits the amount of time you’ll be driving during the above times. Some solutions could be an overnight drive late on Friday the 22nd, leaving at the crack of dawn on the 23rd, 24th, or 25th, or traveling late at night on the 24th.
Driving at an odd time might require you to get creative with you sleep (and you should make sure you still sleep!), but traveling later at night or extremely earlier in the morning can be a great way to ensure a smooth and headache free drive. Why? Most people will not be motivated enough to wake up early or reschedule their day to leave late a night.
2. When to travel for your New Year’s Destination
For New Year’s, most people tend to travel on New Year’s Eve and return home on New Year’s Day. If your work schedule and budget allows it, you could decide to travel out a few days ahead of schedule on Friday the 29th or Saturday the 30th and then return on January 2nd or 3rd. You’ll be in less of a rush if you do, and most likely avoid the heavy travel days.
3. Complete a Maintenance Check
Whenever you’re heading out on a long drive, you should complete a maintenance check on your car. Make sure to check your tire pressure, wiper fluid, wipers, anti-freeze, and to get your oil changed. For a full list, check out the pre-trip checklist on our winter weather driving tips post.
4. Celebrate…In Moderation
Many people like to enjoy an alcoholic beverage or two around the holidays (If you’re one of our students, that should be zero beverages!). If you do decide to indulge in a holiday libation make sure to limit how many drinks you have, drink plenty of water, or have a designated driver. Unfortunately, holiday driving does result in a high number of car accident fatalities. Driving sober or having a plan to have a designated driver could save a life this holiday season. Make sure you do what you can to keep us all safe.
5. Avoid Speed Traps
If you’re traveling during the holidays, odds are you might be in a hurry. If you can, try not to be. To keep the roads safe, police tend to set up more speed traps during the holidays. Since you’ll most likely be driving on roads that you do not travel often, keep an eye out for the speed limit and make sure to have a light foot on the pedal to avoid an untimely speeding ticket.
6. Check the Weather
I’m sure we’ve all been stuck driving in unfavorable winter weather before. It’s usually not very fun. Make sure to check the weather when your planning your driving schedule. If you can avoid inclement weather, do so. Odds are you’ll have a safer and faster drive if you do.