Taking a road trip in the winter can be a wonderful adventure, but if you are planning on exploring areas where you are likely to encounter snow and ice, then it is important to make sure that you and your vehicle are ready to handle the different conditions. It is also worth considering whether you should take a course to learn how to drive in such conditions if you have never encountered the different road surfaces that can be produced when you encounter ice and snow. However, by making these preparations, you can help to give yourself the best chance possible of having a great road trip.
Have Your Tires Ready for the Conditions
The tires are the point where your vehicle touches the ground, so making sure that they are in good condition is vital, otherwise, you will quickly find your vehicle sliding all over the road. If you are going to be driving a fair amount through snow, then consider getting special tires to deal with these conditions, or if you are going to very snowy areas make sure you have snow chains to allow you to travel safely.
Check the Fluid Levels Before Traveling
The low temperatures that are encountered when taking a winter road trip can be particularly challenging for the operation of your vehicle, with water freezing and oil not working as well as it does in warm temperatures. As well as these, make sure you check your antifreeze is well topped up, and it is worth making sure you have some de-icer in the car too for those mornings when you have to clear the windows.
Research Your Route for Roads Prone to Snow
In many of the mountainous areas that can make for magical winter road trips, many roads will often be prone to either being closed or being restricted to slow speeds, so make sure that you take into account any such roads which may have an impact on your route during the trip.
Pack the Essential Equipment for Releasing Your Vehicle From the Snow
If you have ever had to clear snow to get your car from your driveway, then you will know how difficult a job it can be. Imagine trying to do this with your bare hands, and you will realize it makes sense to have at least a shovel and a small amount of grit with you to help move your vehicle, otherwise you may be waiting for the snow plow for some time.
Be Familiar With Winter Driving Techniques
There are several techniques that you can use when driving in snowy and wintery conditions, and one of the most important things you can do is to drive smoothly, and leave plenty of space between you and the car ahead in case you skid while braking. Reading up on the full range of techniques, and practicing them, if you can, will really help you if you encounter poor driving conditions.
Pack an Emergency Kit in Case You Become Stuck
While nobody likes to think of having an accident while you are on a road trip, it is something you should consider, as even a small prang in wintery conditions can become very serious if you cannot move the vehicle and the temperatures drop below zero. Having an emergency kit with basic first aid equipment, emergency blankets, and food and drink can be a lifesaver if things take a turn for the worse.
Service Your Vehicle Before You Travel
Traveling in colder weather takes a much greater toll on the mechanical parts of your vehicle, so making sure you give the vehicle a service before you travel should help to identify any potential problems so they can be rectified before you find yourself on the winter roads.
Give Yourself Extra Time in Your Itinerary
One of the biggest mistakes when planning a winter road trip is to over-estimate the miles that you can cover comfortably during your trip, so make sure that you give yourself plenty of time for stops, and certainly don't assume that you will be able to travel along at the same pace as you would on the highway in the summer.
Avoid Traveling During Rush Hour
The rush hour in cold weather is certainly not somewhere to be if you are driving in winter weather for the first time, and the crush of vehicles close together makes accidents all the more likely. As well as making your road trip safer, it is much more enjoyable to drive when the roads are quieter, as nobody enjoys the frustrations of a traffic jam!
Carry the Numbers of a Few Local Recovery Services Along Your Route
The emergency recovery is not something that you will want to use, but if you are traveling in rural areas you may not always have cell phone signal to check for phone numbers, so having the number of a few services, or your own national recovery service if you have one, can help avoid a series of wasted phone calls from a phone booth in poor weather conditions.