Tips for winter road trips

As much as our family enjoys road trips, there are certain times of the year when we would rather not get in the car and drive 14 hours to visit family. One such occasion that comes to mind is anytime during the winter months.

Roads aren’t as easy to travel and everything is white (there goes playing Eye-Spy). With airfare at a higher rate during some peak winter visiting times (eg. Christmas), sometimes road trips are the only option.

Tips for winter road trips. Original image by Dusan Kostic on fotolia

Some extra planning and time goes a log way in arriving safe, and sane. Here are some tips to consider when planning a winter road trip.

Have contact numbers on hand

Look up the numbers for any hotels you’ll be stopping at on your trip (and let someone know the names of all of your stops in case they need to start calling around looking for you). Know the numbers of friends and family, and CAA in the event you need assistance.

Note: You can buy a CAA membership on the spot if needed.

Communicate your location

Keep in touch with friends and family while you travel. Let them know the exact roads you will be taking and when you expect to be at your next stop. Check in as much as possible with your location and your ETA to your next stop.

There’s an app for that! One app we suggest is Watch Over Me. Available on iPhone and Android, this is a tracking app that will monitor your location and activity. We previously reviewed this app as one of our 5 smartphone safety apps that could save your life.

Pack an emergency kit

In the event you are stranded on the side of the road, you want to be prepared for as much as possible. You will also want to have enough supplies in case help doesn’t immediately arrive.

This may include:

  • blankets (enough for everyone in the car)
  • first aid kit
  • parka (with reflective material), winter boots, hand warmers
  • small shovel
  • non-clumping kitty litter (great for traction under tires)
  • jumper cables
  • road markers or lights/flares
  • something to charge your phone that does not rely on the car (in case you can’t start your vehicle)
  • flashlight (with extra batteries)
  • extra food (non-perishables like granola bars, nuts, cereal – minus the milk)
  • tool kit (beside running out of gas and sliding off the road, a flat tire will be one of the popular hindrances in winter driving. Make sure you have what you need to attempt a tire change if needed)

Go slow and drive during daylight hours

Pay attention to road conditions and take your time so you can properly navigate road conditions and avoid dangers like ice patches. Know sun rise and set times so you can get the most out of your driving time and arrive at your next stop before the sun goes down.

Tip: have a we get there when we get there attitude. Winter is not the time to rush to your destination. When at all possible, remove the need to be at your destination on a certain date at a certain time. Remember it is more important that you just arrive.

Get your car ready

Snow tires are always a great idea when driving across Canada in the winter. Make sure your car has been serviced and all oil changes are up to date.

Tip: if anyone in your car suffers with car sickness, it can become worse during winter conditions. We tend to keep our windows closed during winter so the lack of fresh air and the fact that everything is stuffy inside the car and snow white outside can bring on motion sickness. Cracking a window to get fresh air in will help along with Gravol before heading out on your drive. Gravol is now available in many forms (chewable, liquid, etc) and there are options for adults and kids so be prepared.

What tips do you have for winter road trips? Share them in the comments below. Drive safe everyone.

Disclosure: Article written as part of an ambassadorship with Church & Dwight. Opinions are not influenced.

Sheri Landry

Sheri publishes, and writes at This Bird’s Day where she shares all of the thoughts in her head without the voices. Sticking mainly with content for Canadians, Sheri shares family stories, product information and anything that fits into her (and her family’s) daily activities.

Found in Featured, Travel, Winter