The holidays are just around the corner, and we’ll all be doing a lot more traveling. In fact, the Bureau of Transportation Statistics estimates that long-distance trips increase by 24% – 54% during Thanksgiving and Christmas. This is a wonderful thing in a lot of ways. People are taking breaks, spending time with family, and practicing gratitude. However, with more people on the road and worsening winter weather, the streets and highways become much more dangerous. 

During Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year, traffic injuries and fatalities skyrocket due to distractions, drunk driving, poor weather conditions, and more holiday chaos. If your family is going on a road trip this holiday season, you’ll need safe driving techniques to get everyone safely to their destination. So, today, we’re dedicating this post to holiday travel safety. 

Here are our top holiday travel safety tips: 

10 Holiday Travel Safety Tips

Share your travel plans with loved ones.

Before you leave for your family get-together, let your loved ones know your travel plans. Let them know when you’re leaving, the route you’re taking, and when you plan to arrive. That way, they can check in on you regularly and know when to get help if you’re absent. The last thing you want to do is to break down or spin off the road without service and have no way of contacting help!

Avoid sharing your travel plans on social media. 

Though we think it’s great to share your travels with loved ones, don’t post your travel plans on social media. Criminals look for opportunities to break into homes when people are away for the holidays. Advertising you’re away is like an open invitation to those looking to take advantage of you being out of the house for a long period of time. To ensure you arrive home safely with all your belongings in your house, share your holiday adventures after the trip. 

Get a full inspection of your vehicle.

Before hitting the road on a long trip, it’s always smart to get a full inspection on your vehicle. This is one of our top holiday safety tips! Many mechanic shops do inspections for free (with the hope you’ll use them for any repairs you may need), so shop around and schedule a time to get your car looked at. 

Even though this can be time-consuming and potentially expensive, it’s well worth it! Remember, you don’t want to find out you have an oil leak or a bad battery on the side of the road. Find out beforehand, so you can get everything fixed up. This will give you peace of mind while heading to your holiday party! 

Pack an emergency kit. 

We always recommend having an emergency kit in your car, but you should definitely bulk up that kit when you go on a road trip. Here’s a full list of family road trip essentials, but keep in mind the specific needs of your trip. You’ll need a first aid kit, cold weather essentials, basic car repair tools, and maybe potty gear. Make a full list, and check it twice! A few key items would be hand sanitizer, something to charge your cell phones, winter gear, band-aids, tire inflator, de-icer, blankets, and plenty more you can find in our winter road trip essentials list

Leave early and prepare for setbacks.

Don’t rush. Feeling behind and racing to your destination will only increase your risk of danger. Leave early and expect setbacks of every kind. Whether it’s uncooperative kids or a road closure, you need to have plan Bs for everything. Choose alternate routes, pack extra entertainment tools, choose frequent stops, and relax. You’ll get there when you get there. 

Keep a close eye on the weather. 

Weather can change quickly. Review the forecast multiple times during the week and even the day of your trip. If it’s even a little questionable, stay home. Don’t risk it! Icy roads, poor visibility, and frigid weather can all be huge safety concerns when driving—especially with children. 

Stop every two hours. 

Babies and kids are simply not meant to sit in car seats for long periods of time. With infants, it can be a safety concern to have them in that posture for more than two hours (yes, even if they’re sleeping in the car seat). Plan on stopping every couple of hours to let everyone stretch, use the bathroom, and get comfortable again. Here’s more on how to plan road trip stops

Double-check everyone’s car seats. 

If you haven’t checked things like car seat fit and recline in a while, get that manual out and see if everyone is sitting where and how they should be. After you determine whether or not your car seat needs adjustment, give it a good (and safe) cleaning as well. (Here’s how to clean your car seat.)  We also recommend you take a look at these common car seat mistakes and ensure you’re not a victim of any of them. A properly utilized car seat is essential to a safe road trip. 

Rethink your in-vehicle entertainment.

Part of planning a road trip with kids is figuring out ways of entertaining various age groups for hours at a time. However, when you choose toys, games, and entertainment systems, ensure they’re not projectile risks. In a car crash, small, heavy objects in the car become like missiles ping-ponging around your vehicle. Avoid anything hard-sides or sharp and keep all your bags strapped down. For safe ways to entertain your kids in the car, check out these posts:

Practice safe driving skills.

It’s probably been a while since you’ve had driver’s education. However, safe driving skills are just as important as ever. To stay safe this holiday, refresh on all of your safe driving techniques. Avoid distractions, practice defensive driving, don’t drive drowsy, and say no to drunk driving. This will allow you to stay alert identify safety hazards and avoid creating any hazards yourself. Additionally, if driving in the winter, take a look at our winter road trip safety tips and recall how to drive in icy conditions. 

Have a safe holiday with these travel safety tips!

Driving during the holidays comes with a lot of risk. It’s important to take plenty of precautions to keep your family safe and get them to their destination. These tips will help you avoid major problems and will give you peace of mind on your trip! You can read our road trip tips here, or, if you’re flying this year, read our airplane travel advice

If you liked this post, remember we post more car seat and vehicle safety information daily on the blog and on Instagram. Here at Safe in the Seat, we’re all about equipping parents with trusted and accessible car seats and vehicle facts that keep everyone safe in their seats.

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