12/10/2016holiday car loaded with gifts

Over the river and through the woods we go, year after year, to visit family and friends over the holiday season. Traveling for the holidays is a time-honored tradition, but it is also a time of high stress, cold weather, and of course, traffic conditions that can make you want to pull your hair out.
If you are gearing up to hit the road to visit your nearest and dearest, preparing for your travel in advance is key to avoiding the biggest holiday driving stressors and blunders that occur when the roads are packed with fellow holiday travelers.
Follow these tips to get where you’re going safely and have a wonderful holiday that is just a bit less stressful.
Ready Your Vehicle for Winter

Whether you live in New York where you are likely to see rain and snow over the holidays, or in Tucson where you will likely see more tumbleweeds than snowmen on the side of the road, it is vital that you prepare your car to handle the cold weather.

If you’ve been neglecting your car, be sure that you give it the winter once-over by checking your battery, antifreeze, tires, and wiper blades. For more information about how to fully winterize your vehicle, no matter where you live, check out our blog on winterizing your car.

Plan Your Route Ahead (and a Backup One Too)

Nothing makes a driver more flustered and frustrated than a poor navigator or a sudden change in routes due to road maintenance or sudden closures. When you plan your route in advance, you will become more alert to the potential road changes that you may encounter, and by choosing an alternate route, you will have a plan in place to help you avoid the panic of scrambling for a way around the road you’ve chosen.

The Metropia app is designed to handle not only your route planning, but it can also alert you to any upcoming road changes, road closures, and even choose alternate transportation altogether to get you where you’re going with ease.

Add a Time Buffer

However long you have set aside to arrive at your destination, it is always a good rule of thumb to add 15 to 30 minutes to your route schedule. Bathroom breaks, a flat tire, or the inevitable accident a few cars ahead of you can send your carefully laid plans to arrive on time askew.

Just adding a small buffer of time can alleviate a ton of driving stress, and you won’t have to fixate on the clock as much.

Pack a Snack

Stopping to grab food on a long trip is not only expensive, but it is downright time consuming too. If you pack some road snacks ahead of time, you will be far less likely to have to stop in gas station stores and load up on unhealthy sugary and salty snacks.
Homemade granola, trail mixes, hot chocolate, sandwiches, waters, and even a healthy vegetable soup can be made ahead of time to be sipped and chewed at your leisure on the road (without the added calories and preservatives too).

Get a Good Night’s Sleep

Nothing can make a driver more irritable and unsafe on the road than not getting enough rest before they get behind the wheel. Just as driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol are a recipe for disaster on the road, a sleepy and unfocused mind can be just as dangerous.

Allow yourself a full night’s sleep before you hit the road and you will see a world of difference in your attitude, driving abilities, and focus.

Pack and Emergency Kit

Anything can happen on the road, and even if you plan your route, pack a snack, and choose to get a good night’s sleep, should the worst happen and you get into an accident, you need to be prepared to handle an emergency situation in the winter.

Be sure to pack an emergency kit and keep it in your car before you drive off to see the family. A good emergency kit should include a spare tire, a jack, a flashlight, a fire extinguisher, a tire iron, jumper cables, and combination escape tool, a bottle of water, and a blanket. For the full lowdown on what to keep in your car, check out our blog on emergency supplies.

Engage Your Ears, Not Your Eyes

It may be tempting to bring a movie into the car, but driving during the holidays will require all of your focus, so it is best to plan on bringing along entertainment that is engaging to your ears, not your eyes. A Pandora playlist, an audiobook, or great podcast series are all excellent ways to stay thoroughly entertained in the car while keeping your eyes where they belong – on the road.

Get Kids Travel-Ready

Nothing says “long car trip” quite like a car full of children asking “are we there yet?” To avoid the inevitable boredom of children on a holiday car trip, prepare by stocking the car with kid-friendly and engaging activities that will keep the kids happy and quiet mile after mile.
There’s always digital choices, like tablets and cellphones, but those will only entertain for so long. Making car-friendly child entertainment decisions before you hit the road can save you a lot of aggravation down the line. Check out these tips for keeping your kids entertained in the car on a long trip.