Preparing for that winter vacation

Monday, January 28, 2013

As many area residents plan a winter get-away vacation, either for a long weekend or an extended period of time, it is wise to have your vehicle serviced, inspected, and ready for safe travel to that special vacation destination.

Have your car examined before you leave. The last thing you want to worry about is your car breaking down, stranding you far from home. Take it to your local auto shop for a quick once over, and make sure your tires are winter ready and properly inflated.

Be prepared for a change in course. Before you depart, make sure you know your route. It's very important that you're ready for anything on the road that could change your plans, including construction, road closings and traffic. Remember to keep the directions as well as appropriate state map(s) or a GPS handy, in case you need to reroute your trip.

Stay hydrated. Dehydration might not seem very likely, but a Mayo Clinic study shows that a mere one- to two-percent loss of body weight can quickly lead to fatigue and decreased alertness, which could be deadly in icy winter driving. Also, your body requires more fuel in the cold -- so rely on high-energy food including sandwiches, fruit and a thermos filled with soup.

Pack a winter safety kit for the car. Don't leave without the essentials for a safe road trip -- a cell phone (don't forget the car charger); ice scraper; tow rope and jumper cables; sand or cat litter to aid with traction; blankets; flashlights, matches and emergency candles; first aid kit; portable radio; and a good book, in case you do get stuck.

Make frequent rest stops. Winter driving is much more fatiguing than in the summer, so you'll want to make time to stop and stretch your legs. Just a few minutes off the road will make all the difference in improving your alertness when you're back behind the wheel.

By taking these simple precautions, your vacation get-away can be one to savor without any unexpected travel misadvantures.