8 Winter Holiday Travel Tips for Seniorsby Carissa Andrews - November 17th, 2014
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1. Check the weather reports before you travel.In the age of the Internet and smart televisions, it shouldn't be hard for even the most technology-disinclined seniors to do a quick weather check before heading out. Staying abreast of the weather conditions not only empowers you, but can save your life if it spurs you to make smarter travel choices like waiting a day to travel, or carpooling with someone you trust.
2. Winterize your vehicle.Before traveling in winter conditions, make sure your vehicle is up to the task. Put new tires on if they are needed, change the oil, top up the windshield washer fluid (the deicer kind, of course), check your windshield wipers for cracks and replace if necessary, and check your battery life at a local auto shop.
3. Map out your route.If you aren't into GPS, be sure to map out your route ahead of time and give your itinerary to someone who will be on the lookout for you. That way, someone will always know your intended travel route, should an emergency arise.
4. Create a travel emergency kit.Sure, you could buy one and that's a good start - but every person is different and so are their winter travel needs. Think about what yours are. Some examples could include; extra medication if you get stuck, waterproof matches and a cup (for melting snow to drink), blankets, jumper cables, emergency tire sealant, a collapsible shovel, a scraper, sand (or kitty litter), and even extra gloves, hats, and boots.
5. Keep a cellphone with you.This may be a no-brainer, but if you don't carry one on a normal day, you should really consider having one in your car for emergencies (and don't forget the car charger!). If an accident happens where you are stuck, it's recommended that you stay in your car until help arrives. Trust me, that time will go a lot quicker if you can dial 911 yourself rather than waiting for someone to notice your predicament. Don't forget to double check your tailpipe and clear away any obstructions while you wait.
6. Keep you gas tank topped up.This goes for most days, but especially when you are traveling. If you get to the half-tank mark, consider taking a pit stop and refilling. You never know if you might get stuck somewhere and the longer you can keep the heat going in your vehicle, the safer you'll be.
7. Drink plenty of water before you go.A study done at the Mayo Clinic determined that a loss of just 1-2% of body weight due to dehydration can impair your alertness and cause fatigue - both of which can be deadly if road conditions change quickly.
8. Go slow and leave more space.Depending on travel conditions, you should consider slowing down to half the speed you would normally drive under fairer weather. Additionally, you'll want to widen your following distance in case you, or the car in front of you starts to fishtail, slip, or slide.
There can be a lot of things to think about when it comes to winter traveling, but we hope that we've demystified some of it for you. Remember that with a little bit of planning and prep before hand, you can be more secure in traveling during the snow season. However you spend your holidays this year, we wish you safe, warm, and pleasant travels.
Carissa Andrews is an passionate author and freelancer from Minnesotan with a focus in creative writing.