Winter solstice occurs on December 21st; it’s the shortest day of the year and first official day of winter. Snowfall, icy roads and sidewalks, and bitter wind chills are something of which we are too familiar. If you’re planning to travel this winter, then there are travel tips which you’ll want to keep in mind. These travel tips are beneficial to drivers and to their vehicles; they are going to keep you safe, even when you think you don’t need them.
First and foremost, have a full inspection of your vehicle. This should be done once a year at the very least. While it may be expensive, in turn, it could save your life. You don’t want to be driving home in a snowstorm and suddenly the check engine light comes on. Your tire may blow out, your vehicle may hit black ice, or scar battery dies. Are you going to have the survival skills to fix your car on the side on the road—while it’s sleeting or snowing to beat the band? A mechanic doing a full inspection of your vehicle can be rest-assuring. It can give your vehicle a smoother, and often quieter, ride. Among the short list of items to get inspected are these: brakes, the heating and cooling system, the tires, and the engine. It may not hurt to have the belts inspected, as well as the steering, the lights, gauges and windshield wipers. This is just a short list; if you have any additional concerns, bring them to the attention of your mechanic.
Another travel tip is to have a car safety kit. While a first aid kit is nice, this is not what I am referring to here. During winter, there is generally heavy snowfall. You have to be prepared for that. So, create a car safety kit that is meant for survival. Make sure it has blankets, hand and feet warmers, non-perishable food and water. Furthermore, make sure you have these items in your kit: shovel(s), hats, gloves and scarves; medications, tow chains and booster cables. If it just snowed 6-12 inches in your area, it’s going to take awhile for plows to work their way to you. Most plows, in fact, don’t start plowing snow until the snow stops, which could be hours—or the next day. Have a portable charger as well. That way you can still charge your phone and keep in contact with your family. Play it safe and play it realistic; all these items are so vital for your survival should you get stuck in the snow.
Furthermore, it goes without saying that you should always drive carefully. This isn’t our first snow, folks. Even if you have never seen snow, chances are you have seen it on television or in movies. Be aware of your surroundings. You cannot speed when there is snow and/or ice on the ground, for you will likely spin your car out of control. Moreover, it’s a good policy to always drive with your lights on. This is especially important if you have a darker vehicle. During the winter there are often a lot of cloudy days. The sun is often blinding as it shines off the snow, creating glares for drivers. This is why it’s important to drive carefully and defensively.
On another note, dress warmly. If you have more than one layer on (in addition to your coat), then this insulates your body. Consider wearing wool clothing, such as wool socks or wool sweaters. Buy insulated boots that will keep your feet warm. Thermals, too, are going to keep your body warm if you’re going to be doing long hours of travel. Fleece shirts, jackets, and outerwear are also great options. Most of these can be shredded once you get to your destination, in exchange for comfortable clothes. However, during your travel, it’s important that your body heat stays at its regular temperature. If your body gets too cold, you may experience hypothermia, which is life-threatening.
Finally, check the weather. While it may not be snowing now, it could snow later in the day. If sleet or freezing rain are forecasted, then use precaution as you arrange your travel plans. It may be best to delay or postpone travel plans if there is blistery winter weather in your local area. If you still want to travel, make sure you have everything you need. This includes your car survival kit, in addition to tire chains and sandbags if your car has a tendency to swerve. Play it safe and you’ll be just fine throughout the winter.