A Guide for Safe Travel for the Holidays

Written by Bonnie Gringer

When people start thinking about their Thanksgiving menu or their holiday wish lists, many often begin to think about travel plans. During this time of year, many people drive or take trains, buses, or planes to visit family or friends, and with such a high volume of travel, there are bound to be risks involved. It’s important to be aware of and prepared for potential dangers such as icy roads and impaired drivers in order to stay safe throughout the holiday season.

Road Travel and Safety

During the holidays, people tend to go to parties or social gatherings where drinking can be involved. If you plan on having a drink or two, make sure you have a designated driver. It’s best to set this up ahead of time so you can relax and enjoy your evening, secure in the knowledge that everyone can get home safely. But if you find yourself unexpectedly without a ride, use public transportation or car services if that is an option in your area. And of course, if you’re the sober driver, be careful on the roads, making sure to drive defensively in case you come across impaired drivers.

Another concern for travelers during the holidays is inclement weather. For those who live in areas where it may be icy or snowy, driving with utmost caution is important. If the weather is severe, it’s best to stay home, but if you’re already out on the road, driving slowly and cautiously is key. Don’t brake quickly: Take your time. Always be sure to travel with a full tank of gas. And if the weather suddenly becomes too dangerous to drive in and you’re already on the road, pull over with your hazard lights on. Stay with the car; never try to walk to safety, and keep the cabin light on so rescuers will be able to see you inside.

If you’re traveling a long distance in your vehicle, be sure that all maintenance is up to date before you leave. Bring an emergency road kit with jumper cables, a road flare, and a flashlight. Getting a good night’s sleep before you set out is important, too; when you’re alert and rested, traveling can be less stressful and safer. Make sure you know your route well, and if you’re using a GPS or your smartphone, make sure it is mounted in plain sight: Looking down at your device is highly dangerous and puts your life and others’ lives at risk.

Airport Travel

If you are traveling by plane, it’s important to plan ahead to help the trip go as smoothly as possible. Choosing your travel time wisely can help you avoid long security lines, delays on the runway, and waiting for your luggage. Do some research beforehand to figure out peak travel times, and try to schedule around them. Give yourself plenty of time at the airport, too: There could be delays due to the crowds or poor weather, and having more time will help you feel calmer at the airport.

Another way to avoid waiting in long check-in lines is to only pack a carry-on bag. Read up on TSA requirements to ensure that you’ll be able to carry it through security checkpoints without a hassle. And make sure to always keep your bag with you; unattended bags can be a major security risk and cause further travel delays. If you see an unattended bag, notify airport staff immediately.

Road Rage and Stress

The holidays can be a stressful time for many reasons, and worrying about chasing down the best deals at the mall can add to this stress, causing people to rush around anxiously and contributing to things like road rage. Try to shop before and after peak hours as much as possible, so the environment will be calmer and the roads will be less crowded. In addition, try to get your holiday purchases done early to minimize the stress that can come with last-minute shopping.