Most of us choose to plan our vacations and other family trips in warmer climes, but maybe circumstances demand a journey to a place where snow, ice, and low temperatures are the norm. If you need to brave the roads in the thick of winter to get to your vacation destination, ensure your car is up for it. Here are several quick tips for a long winter trip.
Bring Your Car in for a Checkup
Even if it isn’t due for a scheduled checkup or doesn’t appear to need repairs, take your car to your mechanic or technician for a checkup. Your car service provider can perform a multi-point inspection on your vehicle to review and evaluate every critical part. They’ll check all fluids—oil, brake, windshield, transmission, coolant and antifreeze, and others—to ensure that they’re clean and topped-off. Make sure they inspect the battery in case you need a replacement, and consider if you should upgrade to winter tires. Mention that you’re going on a winter trip, and they’ll be able to winterize your car properly. Better to catch a minor problem now before it turns into a bigger issue on the road. And, of course, fill it up with gas before you head out!
Pack a Winter Emergency Kit
More than likely, you already have a standard road emergency kit, including flares, a jack, a lug wrench, jumper cables, and the like. Fortify it with winter-specific tools and supplies, such as an extra gallon of coolant, a quart or two of oil, several matchbooks or lighters, a flashlight, a first aid kit, ice scrapers, a medium shovel, several warm blankets, a bag of road salt or sand for traction, and a few basic hand tools. If you’re heading to a rustic and out-of-the-way winter destination where you could get stuck and need to wait for help, pack some snacks, water, and a thermos for hot beverages.
Know How To Survive
If you get stuck during a storm and are far from help, two quick tips for a long winter trip that you’ll want to remember are to keep a clear head and have a basic knowledge of survival techniques. Stay with your vehicle, no matter what. It’s a safe base of operations to wait out the storm, and remaining in place will make it easier for rescuers to find you. Tie a bright cloth or flag to your antenna or hold one in place in a tightly closed window. Bundle up under blankets, or wear extra layers of clothing. You can operate your heater at a low level to conserve gas and battery power, but make sure snow doesn’t rise and block your exhaust pipe. That can fill your car’s interior with deadly levels of carbon monoxide. One good rule of thumb: let people know where you’re going and when to expect you!