8 Tips for Your Holiday Road Trip

Nov 28th, 2014 Samantha Brown, Special Interest/Seasonal Travel

Travel expert, TV personality and mother of two, Samantha Brown, offers up some great time-saving advice for your next holiday road trip.

holiday road trip

There are two kinds of road trips. Those where you enjoy the ride and have no particular timetable and the road trips where you have a long way to go and not a lot of time to get there. As much as I enjoy the first kind of trip, holiday travel almost always falls under the second category. When I’m in that kind of travel mode my primary focus, (besides traveling safely) is to stay focused and simply keep moving. This time of year can be stressful enough, so here is my survival guide to get you through to your final destination:

Pack the Gifts in Advance

If you’re traveling with little ones and the gifts that they are going to be receiving over the holidays, do yourself a favor and pack the gifts into the car well in advance of the kids. Also, if at all possible, keep those little fingers from temptation by making sure the gifts are hidden from view and not accessible from where they are sitting. Check out our tips for traveling with gifts for more information.
holiday road trip

Embrace the Night

If you’re looking to make the best time, and can safely manage it, travel at night. There is less traffic and the bladders of the smaller passengers (kids, dogs, cats, etc) are already conditioned to “hold it” overnight. Limit stops as much as possible. As cool as the world’s largest ball of string my sound, you’re in making-good-time mode, and that means you have to keep moving on. The less stops the better. So limit stops to refueling (and coffee).
holiday road trip

Check the Weather

This may seem obvious to everyone but you’d be surprised how many people wait until they are on the road to check the forecast. During the winter, and especially at higher altitudes, not knowing the weather could cause delays. Enter a city for every leg of your trip so you’ll have an idea of where you might bump into trouble. If you need to change your route, doing it before you leave will give you the best chance for an uneventful trip.
holiday road trip

Eat in the Car

There are not a lot of healthy food options available when you’re on the road, so I try to pack some healthy snacks and a sandwich to eat in the car. Packing your own food is cheaper and saves time. A healthy turkey sandwich and apple are going to make you feel far less sluggish behind the wheel than a greasy “gut bomb” from a fast-food restaurant.
holiday road trip

Work in Shifts

If at all possible, travel with a co-pilot and agree to manageable shifts behind the wheel. It’s great to travel with a partner, but you should work out important details early in the trip like who gets to control the radio and thermostat. Decide ahead of time if co-pilot is allowed to nap or stay awake to keep the driver company.
holiday road trip

Know the Way

Most people today have access to a GPS, which has made traveling much easier. Still, electronics can fail or the GPS maps could be out of date, so if I’m traveling to a place I’ve never been I bring a hard copy of directions with me.
holiday road trip

Lay Off the Liquids

Long-distance car trips are the only time I avoid staying well-hydrated. I won’t go into details about why. Now, I’m not saying you shouldn’t drink at all, I’m just saying you should limit your fluid intake enough to be able to stay alert and not be uncomfortable. Having a couple of pieces of hard candy in the car can go a long way to keeping you from feeling thirsty.
holiday road trip

Set the Cruise

Being pulled over by the local police to discuss the speed you were traveling can really slow you down. I would NEVER counsel anyone to drive above the speed limit, but I have heard about an urban legend that most traffic police officers won’t pull over a highway traveler at the posted limit +9 mph. Whatever safe speed you choose, using your cruise control will keep that lead foot of yours honest and keep you from driving any faster. Remember, the time you saved by speeding is all lost by being pulled over.
holiday road trip


About Samantha Brown

Chances are, you’ve seen travel expert Samantha Brown on television—her adventures have taken her to some 220 cities in 49 countries, much of it documented in her work for the Travel Channel.