Traveling in the winter can offer lower rates, smaller crowds, and different views. However, It also comes with its own set of potential hazards. From being stuck on the highway for hours to dealing with flight cancellations, winter weather can hinder travel and vacation plans in a variety of ways. Preparing for potential weather-related emergencies, delays or cancellations can help mitigate the stress of these situations.
Here are a few tips on preparing for winter travelling:
If you’re road tripping…
Get your vehicle ready. Before hitting the road for any extended trip, it’s important to make sure everything on your vehicle is in working order, but it’s even more paramount in the winter when conditions can become more precarious. Here are some basics of what you should do before venturing out in the winter:
- Have a full tank of gas: A half tank or more of gas limits the moisture condensates in the tank, preparing you to tough out an unexpected traffic jam or survive being stuck in the snow.
- Check under the Hood: Check the battery and cables for erosion, cracks, and dirt. Inspect hoses and belts for any cracks, soft spots, or bulges. For a thorough inspection, visit an auto service provider.
- Make sure you have good tires: Tires with good traction are essential to safe winter driving. Check tire pressure monthly, topping off as necessary, keeping in mind that cold winter temperatures can lower tire pressure. Inspect tread depth, which should be at least ⅛ of an inch in thickness. Tread depth can be gauged using a quarter and measuring from the coin’s edge to Washington’s head. Look for uneven tread wear, which typically indicates poor wheel alignment or worn suspension components. Before investing in new tires or to get a professional assessment, visit BBB.org to find a qualified tire specialist.
- Prepare an emergency kit: Keep an emergency preparedness kit in your vehicle at all times. During winter travel, having the following items easily available is essential:
- Jumper cables
- Extra batteries
- Basic first-aid supplies
- Blanket and warm clothing
- Battery-powered radio
- Bottled water and non-perishable food
- Safety flares
- Windshield ice scraper
Put together a list of potential places to shelter along your route: If continuing your travels uninterrupted just isn’t possible, having an idea of where you can pull off and safely stay for the night is important. Take some time to map out any hotels, motels, and even truck stops along your route, particularly those located on long stretches in between towns or cities. Check out hotels in the U.S. and hotels in Canada on BBB.org for a full list of options ahead, or hotels near me to see places to stay while already on the road.
If you’re flying…
Stay in the know: Stay up to date on your flights by following signing up for any offered alerts or updates regarding your flight. Additionally, follow the airline you’re using on social media and check for posts related to your travel plans. In case of a cancellation, social media can offer an additional avenue through which to communicate with an airline and might actually be more expedient than other forms of communication.
Keep documentation: When flights are canceled by the airline, consumers are always entitled to a full refund, including any bag fees or other extras, such as additional legroom for a seat. Keep receipts related to your flight and record any expenses incurred as a result of a significantly delayed or canceled flight, such those related to renting a hotel room.
Prepare a carry-on: If a flight gets cancelled after you’re already checked in at the airport, there’s a chance your luggage made it off the runway while you stayed grounded. To ensure you’re not without essentials while waiting for another flight, pack what you absolutely need in your carry-on, such as:
- Your Passport or ID
- Phone and device chargers
- Change of clothes
- Daily medication
- Hygiene products
- COVID-19 safety supplies
- Cash, credit, or debit cards
- Car keys
While winter traveling might require some extra precautions, it can offer the chance for a great getaway with the proper planning.
Visit BBB.org/travel for more information on trip planning or dealing with delayed or cancelled flights.