Hitting the road with your loved ones for an entire day or more of holiday adventures? Hold up. Car accidents are the number one cause of death of 1–54-year-olds in the US. And while wearing a seat belt reduces risks by 50 percent, sometimes it's the other factors that we overlook that could ruin the holiday trip slightly or gravely.
Don’t let a single holiday trip scar you. It’s supposed to be one of the best memories you make for the year. Here are safety tips for holiday trips that could save lives and keep you from unnecessary stressors.
Traveling Safely on Your Upcoming Holiday Trip
Keep your home safe while you’re away.
Crime can make its way to any neighborhood, no matter how “safe” it seems to be. Gladly, there are several preventative measures you can take to ensure your home remains safe while you are away.
- No social media posts. You were so excited to share the details of your upcoming family vacation on social media that you even set your posts to public. When you did this, you basically set yourself up as a target for burglars, who in the recent past have relied on Facebook and Instagram to stalk and intrude homes while residents are away. Tell your kids about this as well, and make it a rule to only post vacation photos and videos afterwards.
- Locks. Many homes have multiple doors and windows, making it easy to overlook one or more of them. To ensure safety, be systematic when locking up all doors and windows. If you have sliding doors, place a rod in the track to prevent thieves from forcing the door open and entering.
- Blinds and curtains. Leaving your blinds open at night gives robbers a free look into your valuables, your house’s layout, and the activities of your house’s occupants. And leaving windows open at night or when you’re gone is an invitation for an uninvited guest to come in. Keep the blinds closed and curtains drawn to prevent any creepy stalkers from targeting your home.
- Home security system. There are a lot of options that go with security systems, including door and window sensors, doorbell cameras, great keypads and control panels, smash and crash protection, and more. Timers are great especially on nights you won't be home. Set a timer and have the lights go on and oﬀ at speciﬁc times when you aren’t at home so that it looks like your home is being occupied. Motion-sensored lights also discourage burglars from pursuing your home. When the lights sense an intruder, it gives them a chance to run away from the bright lights before you catch them trying to enter your house.
Be updated on the weather forecast.
This time of the year is always a tricky season. Anytime now, snow may begin falling. Being stuck on the side of the road in cold weather is the last thing you want to do on your vacation. If you encounter foul weather or treacherous conditions, it's a good idea to leave the hike for another day when you can return with proper snow traveling equipment and a competent awareness of avalanche danger. If you think you’ll be running into snow, pack up the necessary winter essentials on the trip.
You should also know how to drive safely during this weather. Ensure you know how to maneuver your vehicle on roads with snow, sleet, or moisture as this could potentially be dangerous. Tips include not driving until snow plows and sanding trucks have done their job, allowing yourself extra time to get to your destination to prevent rushing on the road, decreasing your speed, and leaving yourself plenty of room to stop.
Plan your trip thoroughly.
Extensive preparation ensures that you are ready for the worst that could happen during your trip. Learning everything about your destination must be your top priority as a traveler. Imagine being taken advantage of if you don’t understand a country’s currency. Or the health problems you could face if you don’t know the necessary vaccinations for your destination. Imagine driving down a highway and hit construction, a road closing, or severe traffic.
Look up the best place to stay in and know which people to trust. What could be the best neighborhoods and the ones you should avoid? Is there a medical center in the city, just in case? When it comes to accommodation, what are former guests saying about their experiences? How do you get around? What will public transportation be like? Do you need to rent a car? Are there only certain kinds of taxis you should take? Are there scams common in that area? Are there cultural norms you should respect? Should you plan alternate routes to take just in case? Are there certain times of day where traffic is unbearable in the vicinity?
It’s 2019, and most, if not all, of the information you need to know is at the palm of your hands. No excuses.
Check if your car is in working condition.
Is your car even road-worthy for a holiday trip? Winterize your vehicle if you’re taking it before you hit the road, especially if you’re planning to travel to the northern states. Check your tire pressure, tread levels, oil levels, wiper blades, and fluid levels. If it’s time for an oil change, go get one. If you need to patch or replace a tire, don’t skimp. Most importantly, are your brakes okay? Ensure that everything is in working order with a quick maintenance appointment at your local garage or by doing it yourself. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recommends that you have your tires, battery, belts, fluids, and air conditioner checked by a qualified mechanic. Don’t risk it!
Sleep well the night before.
This goes without saying, but driving while tired is deadly. Every year, drowsy drivers cause over 100,000 accidents according to the NHTSA. Studies also show that driving after being awake for 18 hours causes your brain to function like someone with a blood alcohol content of 0.05 percent. For the sake of your beloved passengers, go get yourself a good night’s sleep! If possible, switch off with another friend or family who drives every few hours. Are you on medication? Perhaps you can ask someone else to drive for you. Are you bored on the road? Blast off some music, and sing along or talk with your passengers about funny experiences.
Pack on the emergency kit.
Having an emergency kit before heading on a holiday trip is supposedly a prerequisite. Grab common household items before buying anything. Take along a small flashlight, water bottles for everyone, alcohol swabs, Band-Aids, a cell phone charger, and other items commonly used in the home that are easy and accessible to bring along in the car. Specifically, the NHTSA recommends packing a holiday trip emergency kit that includes the following:
- Warm blankets
- A flashlight
- Jumper cables
- Tools to change a tire
- A fully charged cell phone
- A first-aid kit
GPS is your friend.
In this day and age, GPS trackers are used to lead people to the right direction, alert authorities in case of emergencies, provide better routes, and many more. A GPS tracker is an essential piece of gear with a great many features. When choosing from among the hundreds in the market, pick models with long battery life and multiple tracking technologies to ensure uninterrupted service coverage. Note that there are GPS trackers without an SOS feature or a weatherproof case, so always keep your holiday trip needs in mind when choosing one. A cost-efficient yet feature-rich GPS tracker like Tracki would do
Stock up on supplies.
Keep your car and loved ones fueled for the entire trip by stocking up on provisions, drinks, and gas. For a day trip, pack perishable foods, such as sandwiches. Just be sure you have a cold source (like an ice pack) to keep food properly chilled to below 40°F. Choose a mix of salty and sweet and junky and healthy food to keep it balanced. If you’re sleeping over somewhere, map out your meals so you'll have what you enjoy and need. Meals may include ready-to-eat cereals, canned goods, and instant food or mixes.
Don’t forget to pack a full gas can in your trunk, either. Getting stuck on the side of the road won’t just delay your holiday trip; it could be dangerous.
Share your itinerary to someone you trust.
Give a family member or close friend your travel itinerary and the contact information of the accommodation you’re staying in. You can email your full itinerary to a few other family members. This way, if they don’t hear from you for a few days after your supposed return, they can help notify the proper local authorities. Also make sure someone has your email address(es), phone number(s), and the contact details of the local embassy as well.
Have fun and stay safe! If you’re traveling overseas, check these safety tips out.