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8 Tips for Your Holiday Road Trip

There are two kinds of road trips.

1) Those where you enjoy the ride and have no particular timetable.

2) Those where you have a long way to go and not a lot of time to get there.

As much as I enjoy the first kind, holiday travel almost always falls under the second category. When I’m in that kind of travel mode my primary focus (besides traveling safely) is to stay focused and simply keep moving.

Here’s a few tips to ensure your holiday road trip is a success.

Pack the Gifts in Advance

Traveling with little ones? Do yourself a favor and pack the gifts into the car well in advance of the kids. Also, if at all possible, keep those little fingers from temptation by making sure the gifts are hidden from view and not accessible from where they are sitting.

holiday gifts

Embrace the Night

If you’re looking to make the best time, and can safely manage it, travel at night. There is less traffic and the bladders of the smaller passengers (kids, dogs, cats, etc) are already conditioned to “hold it” overnight. Limit stops as much as possible. As cool as the world’s largest ball of string my sound, you’re in making-good-time mode, and that means you have to keep moving. The less stops the better, so limit stops to refueling (and coffee).

Baby Sleeping

Check the Weather

This may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people wait until they are on the road to check the forecast. During the winter, and especially at higher altitudes, not knowing the weather could cause delays. Enter a city for every leg of your trip so you’ll have an idea of where you might bump into trouble. If you need to change your route, doing it before you leave will give you the best chance for an uneventful trip.

Snowy Road

Eat in the Car

There are not a lot of healthy food options available when you’re on the road, so I try to pack some healthy snacks and a sandwich to eat in the car. Packing your own food is cheaper and saves time. A healthy turkey sandwich and apple are going to make you feel far less sluggish behind the wheel than a fast-food “gut bomb.”

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Work in Shifts

If at all possible, travel with a co-pilot and agree to manageable shifts behind the wheel. It’s great to travel with a partner, but you should work out important details early in the trip. For example, who gets to control the radio and thermostat. Decide ahead of time if co-pilot is allowed to nap or stay awake to keep the driver company.

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Know the Way

Most people today have access to a GPS, which has made traveling much easier. Still, electronics can fail or the GPS maps could be out of date. If I’m traveling to a place I’ve never been, I bring a hard copy of directions with me.

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Lay Off the Liquids

Long-distance car trips are the only time I avoid staying well-hydrated. I won’t go into details about why.  Now, I’m not saying you shouldn’t drink at all. I’m just saying you should limit your fluid intake enough to be able to stay alert and not be uncomfortable. Having a couple of pieces of hard candy in the car can go a long way to keeping you from feeling thirsty.

hard candy

Set the Cruise

Being pulled over by the local police to discuss the speed you were traveling can really slow you down. I would NEVER counsel anyone to drive above the speed limit, but I have heard about an urban legend that most traffic police officers won’t pull over a highway traveler at the posted limit +9 mph. Whatever safe speed you choose, using your cruise control will keep that lead foot of yours honest and keep you from driving any faster. Remember, the time you saved by speeding is all lost by being pulled over.

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What are your best tips for road tripping during the holidays?

Read more:

2013 Top Gifts for Travelers

Holiday Travel Survival Guide

Holiday Spirit in New York City

3 Great Places for Holiday Lights

This Post Has 2 Comments
  1. I travel with peanut butter but I buy the single serving ones when they are on sale. Beats traveling with a jar, plus one of us eats creamy and the other chunky so we can take both kinds.

    We also make and take fruit leather for snacks. Our favorites are strawberries, cherry and peach. We also make banana chips to take along. You don’t need a dehydrator for these, you can use your oven at a low temperature.

    I never travel without a neck pillow (not the curved kind). It can be used for your neck, as an arm rest, foot rest, back support etc. I made “pillowcases” for mine so the pillow stays clean.

    Because I am a quilter I take “gifts” I have made such as mug mats, wine glass coasters, mug cozies. They are small, light weight and I can make them with Arizona motifs, or holiday fabrics.

    Keep those travel tips coming…..we love them!

  2. I love your travel tips and look forward to everything you write. However, from what I’ve read and hear from my daughter, the picture of the baby in the furry suit in the car seat is not safe and not recommended. Babies should not have on bulky clothes and the strap is way too loose.

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