Going on a winter road trip can require a little more planning than a road trip in the warmer months. Having to consider both general factors, such as the route, time, and lodging into consideration, as well as factors such as potential road closures or snowy conditions, can feel a little overwhelming. No worries – we’ve compiled 7 winter road trip tips that will get you on the right track for your holiday getaway!
1. Choosing A Route
Choosing a destination is no doubt one of the most fun and most important parts of any trip! The route you’re taking to get there, meanwhile, can be just as vital – while the destination might also count, the journey can be just as memorable. When planning a winter road trip, picking a route can be even more vital. Even well-traveled roads can experience closures due to weather concerns at different points. Even if you’re escaping the cold to go somewhere warmer, it’s possible you’ll have to travel in winter weather for at least part of your trip. A couple of tips that can help: consider trying to stick to main roads as much as possible – especially when traveling in colder areas. While back roads and scenic routes can no doubt make for a memorable trip, they may also be less maintained in the winter. They’re also generally less traveled, meaning that if you should run into trouble, finding assistance could be more difficult.
2. Consider Your Car
Winter months can bring about all manner of difficult weather – rain, snow, ice. When you’re planning a winter road trip, you’ll want to take into consideration the capabilities of the car you’ll be taking when choosing a route. Cars with all-wheel or four-wheel drive may have an easier time driving in snowy conditions. You may also want to consider getting snow tires or chains, you don’t already have them. Being aware of your vehicle’s capabilities will allow you to plan a trip that is both fun and safe!
3. Put Together A Winter Car Kit
If you’re going to be traveling by car through any colder areas, you’ll want to bring a winter car kit. This is an emergency kit designed for cold weather. This should include the general emergency kit supplies such as a first aid kit, as well as supplies geared towards cold weather. Emergency blankets, for example, don’t take up much space to pack and can be incredibly helpful in staying warm should you get stranded anywhere. Some other things to consider packing: flashlight and extra batteries, water, and gloves.
4. Check Road Conditions Frequently
Related to the above tip – road conditions can change rapidly in the winter. A clear road one day may experience snow or rain overnight. Because of this, it’s a good idea to check road conditions as frequently as possible. Referencing closures from previous years when planning your route can also add an additional layer of assurance to your road trip. Finally, check out what sources you can rely on for updates for the route you’re taking before you head out. This way, you won’t be having to try to find the right radio station to tune into or an up-to-date website while on the road.
5. Schedule Some Extra Time
This is a good idea for road trips any time of the year. Planning some extra time will create a helpful safety net should anything unexpected arise. Because there are several additional factors to consider in the winter, such as potential unforeseen snowfall or road closures, this will be even more helpful for a cold-weather road trip. Consider adding a few hours to your plan each day. Worst case scenario – everything does go according to plan and you end up with some extra time to explore a stop or enjoy your destination.
6. Plan A Plan B
Most likely, your road trip will go on with only minor setbacks, if any. In the unfortunate event that anything setbacks should arise that can’t be immediately fixed with the extra time, having a backup plan is a great way to make sure you’ll still have a good trip, even if it’s not what you originally planned. For lodging, look into both cancellation policies as well as the potential for extending your stay. Consider also creating a plan for both an alternative route as well some activities or stops along this route. This way, if you have to cut a portion of the trip out due to closures or time, you’ll already have a new plan to hop to!
7. On Packing
Packing for any trip can be difficult! There’s always the question of what to bring. While you have some more freedom packing for a road trip over a plane trip, it’s still important to pack efficiently. For a winter road trip, this means that you’ll want to keep cold-weather clothes easily accessible. The last thing you’ll want to have to do is unpack a full suitcase to find a pair of gloves at the bottom. Consider bringing a bag or bin for shoes/outerwear as well. If you’ve been walking through snow or slush, this is a great way to make sure any runoff won’t result in a puddle on your car floor. Finally, make sure to bring a blanket or two to stay cozy on the trip.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com