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A Guide to Planning Your Holiday Road Trip

If you’re one of the millions of families taking to the freeways this holiday season, you know what lies ahead: congested roads, cars stopped on the shoulder, standstill traffic. If you’re driving with children, you’re likely gearing up with queued-up movies and cartoons for entertainment, or toys to keep them distracted. You surely want to avoid the disaster of last year’s road trip, where Junior spilled juice all over his little sister, she burst into tears, and you had to both drive the vehicle and reach behind to console two screaming children, which caused you to miss your exit. You swore to yourself, Never again.

But it’s that time of year again, so load up the van, buckle in, and read these tips on how to plan your best road trip.

Prepare your car

Make sure your vehicle is ready for the trip ahead. Are you up to date on inspections and oil changes? Have you checked the tire pressure? Avoid surprises (and alarming dashboard warnings and engine sounds) on the road and take your ride to the shop prior to travel. Fill the tank early in the week to avoid price spikes as the calendar looms closer to the holiday weekend.

Embrace digital

If you’re gearing up for a long ride, a little screen time can help ease everyone’s nerves, and encourage some peace and quiet in the back seat. Download games, movies, books and whatever else the little ones enjoy to keep them occupied for an hour or two, especially when bumper-to-bumper traffic requires your undivided attention.

Set expectations

Does it usually take four hours to get to Grandma’s house? Plan for more around peak travel days. Leave your house earlier than you normally would to allow for delays, and to prevent driving while tired at night. Additional traffic can be stressful, but if you set expectations of longer travel time from the beginning, you and your travel companions can settle in and embrace the drive together.

Consider different travel dates

Studies show that traveling on the holiday is significantly safer than the days leading up and immediately after. If your schedule and family time allow, travel on Thanksgiving morning instead of the Wednesday before. Play with the dates and see what makes the most sense for your family.

Be alert

Perhaps the most important tip is to be prepared and alert for other drivers on the road. Use defensive driving skills and be hypervigilant of your surroundings. Get a good night’s sleep the day before you travel. Take regular bathroom and stretching breaks. Alternate drivers if possible to avoid fatigue.


The holidays should be a time for family gatherings and cherished memories, not car failure, accidents and injury. If the unexpected happens, such as an accident or driving citation, contact the Law Office of D. Hardison Wood for legal advice and recourse.

This entry was posted in Car Safety, Speeding.