Going on a road trip in winter is much different from doing it any other time of year, with busy highways, along with poor, and often dangerous, weather conditions, which is why you need to take more time to prepare than you would for a summer road trip. There are plenty of details you must take into account, such as making sure that your car is in good condition and is ready for driving on slippery, icy roads, getting the necessary supplies, and drawing up a timetable, which will include your departure and arrival time, as well as the breaks you plan to take during the trip.
First and foremost, you have to prepare your car for your trip. There are a few things you should check, including fluids, such as transmission fluid, engine oil, antifreeze/coolant, and windshield washer fluid, and make sure they are at the recommended levels. Then, check your tires, see if they are inflated properly, your battery, and make sure your brakes are working.
After you’ve inspected your car and fixed any potential issues, you should make a list of the supplies and other necessities you might need while on the road. When driving in winter in addition to food and water, you must:
- bring a first-aid kit, consisting of adhesive bandages, sterile gauze, gloves, scissors, soap, and antiseptic wipes, among other things,
- flares a flashlight,
- jumper cables,
- ice scraper.
Also, it’s wise to keep your phone charged at all times, which can come in handy in case you get stranded on the road and you have to call emergency services. A GPS device with a route created beforehand is also recommended.
Now, you can start planning the trip itself. Considering that you are likely to drive in snow-covered, icy roads, you will have to drive pretty slowly and carefully, which means you will need more time to get to your destination than you would if you were traveling when the weather is not that bad. That’s why you need to leave as early as possible, if you want to get there on time, and avoid traffic, which is pretty bad this time of year.
Sharing your itinerary, with your estimated departure and arrival times, as well as information about your route, with a reliable person that is close to you is also a must. This way, if something goes wrong, for example if your car breaks down or if you get stranded in the snow, they can locate you more easily and come and help you if they are somewhere near you or contact the emergency services and inform them about your location.
Finally, you must be aware of what the weather is going to be like during your trip. Keep yourself informed at all times, so that you can avoid getting caught in a blizzard or a snowstorm, as driving in such conditions is obviously pretty dangerous. Downloading a weather app on your smartphone can help you keep track of the weather while out on the road.
Guest Author bio:
Jordan Perch is an automotive fanatic and “safe driving” specialist. He is a regular writer for DMV.com, a collaborative community for US drivers.