Traveling at any time is thrilling, exciting and rejuvenating, except when it’s not. Traveling in the winter is all those things but also treacherous, exhausting and often miserable. Here are my solutions to winter travel blues and how to make it exciting.
Being a military family we often traveled “home” for the holidays. We either lived on one coast or the other and our families are right in the middle in Texas. Either direction we had a 22- to 25-hour drive and, with a large family and presents, flying was not an option.
Enter the military-infused bloodline I come from. My personal mission was Operation “get home for the holidays” and I was in charge.
The winter weather brought on new challenges that our summer trips did not. I would start with a plan, or some might call it an ORM (operation risk management) only I did it Kelli style, usually yelling out orders from a chair or couch while trying to shove as many clothes into a space bag as possible. Think of what could go wrong and have things in place to address any potential problems along the way. That is ORM.
Plan out your route with alternatives
Make sure you are planning the safest route possible. Sadly, it’s not always the shortest. Take into consideration the conditions you’ll be traveling in and which roads will be maintained sooner than others in the event of a winter storm. Be aware of alternate routes you can take in the event a road is closed.
My dad was our weather guy. He would track our road trips, call us along the way and report what we were heading into. Enter the cell phones of today and all the fabulous weather apps. Now we have a weather guy on the road with us. Someone tracks the storms and reports what’s ahead. It’s usually boring stuff in July on I10, but during December you might see some action.
Depending on where you are going, make sure the car is prepared for the conditions you will be traveling through. Lucky for us we never needed to purchase snow tires or chains, but if you’re heading far north, budget that in. Oil changes and routine maintenance should be scheduled out in advance to catch any bigger unexpected mechanical concerns. I was really great about this, except when I might have forgotten to do it. Last minute oil changes and a quick review of the tires, belts and fluids at the very minimum should definitely be done before you hit the highway.
Blankets, food and water
These are typical needs on any long trip, but the colder weather makes the food and blankets a little more important than a spring break drive home. The thought of breaking down on Interstate 20 in December somewhere in Tennessee made me a little nervous so I made sure we could survive for three days in our SUV. OK, so maybe I have issues, but we would stay warm and eat like kings!
With the electronics of today, this is almost too easy. Might I suggest a throwback to before media was so portable? I read books out loud on the drive. If you are prone to motion sickness try the book on CD version. There’s just something about the whole family listening to a story together. However, don’t think I don’t see the value in everyone having their own headset and going into their own world for an hour or two.
The bottom line is if you are prepared, do your part in making sure you know what you are headed into and keep a cool head when the unexpected pops up, you are going to have a fabulous winter trip. Oh and when the unexpected does happen, add it to your after action report for consideration in planning Operation “get home for the holidays” next year.
If you have any unique tips or adventures share in the comments below. We’d love to hear how you make those long trips home an exciting adventure!