Planning a Road Trip This Winter? Here’s What You Need to Check

If you are going to visit family or friends this holiday season, or are planning a skiing trip by car, you need to be prepared for severe weather and emergencies. Your car is likely to behave differently in the cold weather, and if you are not used to driving on ice or snow, you should follow some safety guidelines. Below you will find some tips on how to plan a winter trip and avoid unpleasant surprises on the road.

“Icy Road” by Michael Gil is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Get Your Tires Checked

It is important that your tires are suitable for winter driving. If you don’t have enough thread on them, or they are only good for summer weather, you might need to get them changed. Take the car down to your local mechanic who can diagnose your tracking, so you can make the most out of your steering in any weather. Some tires perform better on cold surface than others, and if you are planning to drive hundreds of miles a day, you will need them to be reliable.

Allow Plenty of Time for Closed Roads

In the winter, especially during the holiday season, there are more cars on the road, therefore, you should be prepared for accidents and road closures. Traffic jams are also extremely likely, and if you reach an area affected by a snowstorm, you will face disruptions and delays. Icy roads and inexperienced drivers can cause accidents, and this means your journey time will be increased significantly.

Plan an Alternative Route

Even if you have your journey stored in your satellite navigation system, you need to have an alternative. If there is a delay, road closure, or accident, the last thing you want to do is being stuck on the road and having to deal with impatient children at the back. Before you start off, check the weather reports in the area you are planning to travel through, so you can make last minute adjustments.

Make Sure Your Battery is Up for the Trip

One of the best winter driving tips experienced drivers can give you is to make sure that your batteries are up for the cold weather and long journey. You are likely to have your headlights and your heating on during the entire trip, and if you have kids, they will want to keep their devices charged, listen to the radio, or read at the back. If you don’t have a built in satnav, a portable one can easily drain your batteries, if they are not in top condition, leaving you without power in the middle of the road.

Pack an Emergency Kit

“Snow Road” by Evgeniy Isaev is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Nobody is planning on getting stuck on the road or in the ditch for hours, but it can easily happen in the winter. If you want to be prepared, you will need to get an emergency kit that includes basic medical supplies, drinking water, and canned food. If you are involved in an accident, you don’t want to wait for hours for the recovery truck without food or drink. Pack warm blankets and warm clothes for everyone, as well as emergency warning lights to attract the attention of other road users, in case you get into trouble. Take a shovel if you are likely to drive through areas covered by thick snow.

Take Portable Chargers and Heaters

In case you run out of petrol or battery power, you will need to survive in the cold weather. Take some portable chargers and heaters with you to keep you going, and charge up your phone. If your car breaks down on a quiet, icy road, you want to be able to contact emergency services. If you have a satellite phone, take that too, in case you don’t have cell phone coverage.

Check Your Insurance Cover if Planning an Interstate Road Trip

Some auto insurance policies have different clauses related to interstate travel. Make sure you are covered for car recovery and service, or you might need to find your way home without your car, and spend a fortune on getting it repaired.

Driving in the winter can be challenging for both inexperienced and advanced drivers. Make sure that your car is up to the journey, and your tires and batteries are in the best condition. Pack an emergency kit, and plan your route carefully. Listen to the weather reports on the road, and make sure you know what to do and who to contact in case of an emergency. Allow extra time for maneuvers and the journey itself, and you can stay safe on winter roads.