Wanna know my biggest travel paranoia? Being stranded in my car in a snowstorm….and I live in NYC. I do a lot of road trips outside of the city, and I go home to New Hampshire, so being stranded is not totally out of the question. But I do take some precautions every time I venture away from the safety of a well-populated metropolis, complete with public transportation and five restaurants on every block.
Quick road trip tips:
- Never go below ½ a tank of gas
- Make sure your wiper fluid is topped off
- Bring an external battery for my cell phone.
- Double check you have jumper cables and an ice scraper
- Make sure you’re not due for an oil change
Check the weather (all of it).
I check the weather of where I am, where I’m going to on the day I’m leaving AND coming back. This gives me a full picture of what time I should plan to travel on both days. I know what the weather is along the way as well. For instance, I’m usually driving back home to New York from New Hampshire. If there’s a storm hitting New York first, then making its way towards New England, I want to make sure I miss it completely. Hello, late night drive!
My kids have heard me swear like a truck driver. It’s not my fault—that man who cut me off was a total F-$%#!-hole. To avoid this, I now travel very early in the morning to get ahead of what can be two hours of intense traffic getting out of a city. An early call time works well with my young kids, but I know people who love to drive at night. It’s your call!
Help! I need somebody. Help! Not just anybody.
I have a AAA membership with roadside assistance. I learned how to change a tire back in High School drivers Ed., but that was like 12 years ago! 😉 It’s peace of mind that I can call anytime, anywhere, and a tow truck is on its way.
Winter Survival Kit
I have a duffel bag in the back of my minivan with ski gloves, snow pants, warm socks and a hat. There’s also energy bars, water, a bag of small votive candles AND a metal can. If you are stranded in a car waiting out a snowstorm, you don’t want to run out of gas. Experts recommend you conserve it by running your car ten minutes every hour. The candles provide warmth and the tin can radiates it.
Leave the cat at home, but take the litter.
Another good tip is to have a bag of kitty litter to provide traction if your wheels are spinning on ice, as well as a flare so assistance can locate you.
Ye olde fashioned atlas
Why not stash a map or atlas in your glove box? Even if you never have to take it out, it’s there in the case that you get lost and your phone service isn’t working.
A word on snow tires
I know some people think you don’t need them. While they are a pain to swap ever season, they really do make a huge difference when driving in cold, snowy conditions. If you live somewhere that stays cold for four or five months a year, it may be worth the investment!
A good and safe attitude.
I like the mantra, “we’ll get there when we get there.” If the weather gets bad or you need a break, just stop. Stretch your legs at a gas station, visit a local bar and grill for a tasty burger and fries (calories don’t count on road trips), grab a coffee to go. Your friends and family would rather you arrive late than not at all.
And if they complain, maybe you should just go to the Bahamas next year. 😉
What are your best winter road trip tips? Share in the comments.
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