Winter road trip 101￼
Winter driving is a beast that one should always be prepared to battle
Living where we do and being the stubborn generation that we love to be and hate to admit that we are, you bet that we’re not going to let a little snow and cold keep us from hitting the highway. Despite the confidence we may have in our abilities to get from point A to point B in one piece, there are a few key dos and don’ts that I recommend you should follow when preparing to hit the highway in our unpredictable winter climate.
Do: make sure that you pack yourself a roadside emergency kit, especially when making a longer trip or when you’re leaving with less-than-ideal conditions in the forecast. This should consist of items such as water, food like trail mix or protein bars, a candle and matches, a blanket, and a spare change of clothes in case you end up getting wet. You want to be able to ensure that you can stay warm and dry if something happens. Some extra things you may want to consider packing as well are cat litter to help you get traction under your tires, a shovel to allow you to clear access to your muffler easily if you get stuck, and a first aid kit.
Don’t: under-pack just because you think that there is a low chance that something is going to happen. Just because it hasn’t happened before or there is a low probability of it occurring doesn’t mean that it won’t happen this time. It’s better to have it and not need it than to wish you had it.
Do: check the conditions of the highways that you’re going to be driving on and ensure that you map out your route ahead of time. This is especially important if you’re travelling somewhere new. As the weather can be unpredictable, it’s never a bad idea to look at potential alternate routes in case you need to change course due to road conditions or accidents that you may come across. It’s also useful to know cities and rest stops on the way so you can judge when you may need to stop.
Don’t: assume that the estimated time that your GPS gives you is the actual time it’s going to take you to get there. Ice and snow will force you to drive slower; on top of the need to stop for fuel, food, and the washroom, it’s always wise to account for extra time in your travelling. This is very important if you’re facing a commitment that requires you to arrive at a specific time.
Do: make sure that you enjoy the drive to wherever the roads take you. Look around at the scenery, stop in cute little towns, listen to the local radio stations, and just have fun on the adventure. We’re so worried about where we’re going that we oftentimes forget to enjoy the ride along the way.
Don’t: forget to complete any needed maintenance on the vehicle that you’re taking. It’s so easy to just turn the key and get going; skipping a walkthrough is when you’re going to get yourself into trouble. Make sure that you have tires appropriate for the weather and that they’re full of air, ensure your fluids are full, top up your gas tanks before leaving, double-check that none of your lights/signals are burnt out, and make sure that you have windshield wipers that work properly.
Of course, you can choose to ignore these suggestions. We all have things that make us comfortable when choosing to travel. Whatever it is you choose to do to prepare for the wintery highways, ensure that you stay safe and get where you’re going in one piece. There is no point in skipping preparation steps just to end up broken down and stranded.