Driving Home For Christmas – 6 Top Tips

Our guest author today is Morag Peers, who gives us tips on driving during the holidays, and arriving safe and sound. Morag writes about family, special occasions and many other subjects for a wide range of blogs and websites.

Winter driving photo by papalars
Winter driving photo by papalars

The festive season is fast approaching, and for many people that means lengthy journeys to see friends and family either for Christmas or New Year. It’s easy to get caught up in the preparations for the big day, but while you’re hanging up the Christmas garlands and getting the children to make their own Christmas memories, thinking about making a long journey often gets left to the last minute. Follow these tips to make sure you have a safe and merry Christmas.

Car Maintenance

Yes it’s boring and often seems like a waste of time, but before heading out on a journey spend 10 minutes checking your tire pressure, windscreen washer bottle, anti-freeze and windscreen wipers. Remember that many fuel stations will be closed over the holidays or operating on reduced hours, so fill up in plenty of time before setting off.

How's your wipers? Photo by Apnea Photo
How’s your wipers? Photo by Apnea Photo

Watch the Weather

Snow in December is not unusual, and if your trip involves driving on minor roads, some disruption is to be expected in bad weather. Watch the weather forecast before traveling, and if there is predicted to be a heavy snowfall, try to change your plans to avoid the worst of the weather. If this is not possible, make sure you have a fully charged mobile phone, warm clothing, a first aid kit, blankets, flares, and emergency supplies of food in case you get stuck.

Entertain the Kids

The combination of a long car journey and excited children is a recipe for disaster, so go prepared with plenty to keep them occupied. Personal DVD players can be a godsend for harassed parents, or take small craft kits which can be done in the back of the car so that the kids can create their own Christmas prints or paper chains to decorate the home of whomever you are visiting.

Portable DVD player
Portable DVD player

Rest Up, Belt Up, Take Breaks, Stay Aware

Get a good night’s sleep before traveling, take regular breaks (every 2 hours or so) and try to travel at a time of the day when the children are usually asleep. Make sure everyone is belted in properly before starting out. Keep your eyes on the road, preferably down the road, and always have an exit plan (onto the shoulder, speed up, slow down, etc.). Above all, don’t text while driving.

Know the Route

Nothing spoils Christmas more than a blazing row with your partner, so make sure you know exactly where you are going and how to get there. If your map reading skills don’t come up to scratch, put a portable satellite navigation system on your Santa list to avoid spending most of the festive season driving around in circles trying to find Aunt Ethel’s house.

Portable satellite navigation system
Portable satellite navigation system

Don’t Indulge in the Festive Spirit

We all know that drink driving is stupid, illegal and dangerous, (in the U.S. as well as in the UK) yet every year people have too much to drink at parties and get behind the wheel. Remember that your body takes several hours to process alcohol, so you may still be over the limit early in the morning after drinking the night before. Book a taxi from a reputable local firm in advance, especially for New Year’s Eve or Christmas Day, or take turns with other family members to be the designated driver and stick to the orange juice when you are.

Don't drink and drive photo by st_gleam
Don’t drink and drive photo by st_gleam

Are you traveling by car during this winter season? Get home safely and back again well! And happy holidays to you all! Any more good advice out there that we can pass along?

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