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Approximately 33 million people travel over the long Thanksgiving weekend, making it the most traveled holiday of the year (followed by Christmas and New Year’s). But traveling, both by plane and car, over the holidays can be stressful, and potentially dangerous, in the snow and ice. Don’t let holiday traveling give you the winter blues. There are precautions you can take to ensure the safety and general wellness of you and your family during winter traveling.

All winter traveling starts when you leave your home. Be sure to lock all doors and windows, and set your security alarm. You can even set lights on timers and ask a friend or neighbor to collect your mail while you’re away to give your home the lived-in look that may help ward off thieves.

Traveling by Plane

Winter flying can be met with lengthy flight delays, cancellations and missed connections. The most important travel tip is to stay calm, be patient and prepare for the worst possible scenario. How do you do this? Planning ahead can prevent unexpected and/or unwanted event from occurring, such as your desired flight filling up before you book it. Booking your flight far in advance not only ensures you will have a seat, but it also means lower airfare rates and a better chance of flying direct or minimizing connections.

Pack light to avoid hold-ups at the airport. Many airlines are cracking down on their baggage allowances and each bag you bring now costs you a pretty penny. Traveling light reduces your baggage fees and leaves room to pack any presents you receive for the trip back home.

Leave for the airport with plenty of time to spare. Driving through snow can cause unexpected delays and security lines during this peak travel season can grow quite long. Give yourself enough extra time to make up for such occurrences in time to catch your flight. On the other hand, this tactic can leave you with a lot of free time if nothing slows you down on your way. That’s much better than missing your flight! You can eliminate boredom by bringing a book, tablet or music for entertainment. 

Remember, the holidays fall during peak flu season and you’ll be trapped in a steel tube with individuals who are possibly sick. Get your flu shot before you travel and wash your hands frequently to reduce the spread of germs. It’s also a good idea to stand up, stretch your legs and walk around every hour to stimulate blood flow and reduce cramping.

Traveling by Car

Winter driving can be met with road closures, increased amount of traffic accidents and slower speeds. Just like on planes, there are steps you can take to smooth over your road trips. Winter driving presents unique hardships, so you should have your car inspected before leaving. Have a mechanic check your car’s vitals, including the brakes, fluid levels, battery, light bulbs and particularly the tire pressure and tread.

With your car ready for the road, you should familiarize yourself with your route and the current weather conditions along the way. Bring a GPS and/or map in case you have to suddenly shift course due to construction, accidents, road closures or avalanches. Packing a safety kit can come in handy during emergency situations. Your kit should include items such as, but not limited to, a cell phone and car charger, jumper cables, ice scraper, tow rope, sand or kitty litter for traction, flashlights with extra batteries, blankets, emergency flares, matches, first aid medical supplies and a portable weather radio. You may also want to bring books and/or magazines in case you get stuck in traffic or a snowdrift.

Bring water and protein-rich snacks for every person in the car. The body requires more fuel in the cold and healthy snacks, along with proper hydration, will help keep you alert and focused. You may also want to stop every hour or two to stretch your legs, which can also improve your alertness. Always remember to wear your seat belt and buckle up children in appropriate child safety seats or booster seats. Holidays are meant to be enjoyed to the fullest, but never get behind the wheel after drinking.

What to do next?
Being prepared will help eliminate many common woes that winter travelers experience. Utilize these tips to stay safe and comfortable, wherever the season takes you. Be sure to review your Auto Insurance policy to be sure you are protected from any accidents that could happen and feel free to call us at 609-645-1700 with all your questions. 

We here at BCA wish you all a Happy Holidays!
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