Top Tips To Help You Plan A Cross-Country Trip During Winter

Winter is a great time to take a road trip. The roads are less crowded, the scenery is beautiful, and there are plenty of places to stop and explore. But before you hit the open road, there are some things you need to do to make sure your trip goes smoothly. Here are some tips for planning a winter road trip.

Choose The Right Vehicle

When planning a winter road trip, you’ll want to make sure that you have the right vehicle for the job. If possible, rent an SUV or truck with all-wheel drive, as this will give you the best traction on icy roads. Also, be sure to check your tires and make sure they are in good condition before setting off.

For example, an enclosed trailer with living quarters can be extremely useful on long trips, as it can provide additional space and protection from the elements. It also helps to bring along an extra set of warm clothing and a shovel in case you get stuck.

winter seasson

Plan Your Route

Once you’ve chosen your vehicle, it’s time to plan your route. When driving through winter weather, you want to avoid mountain passes as much as possible, since they can become especially icy or snowy.

First, make sure you check the weather forecast along your route before departure. This will help you determine if there’s any chance of adverse conditions that could delay or even stop your trip. 

Next, consider taking secondary roads instead of highways and interstates.

Not only is traffic usually lighter on smaller roads, but they also have fewer challenging curves, hills, and elevation changes. Plus, they tend to be better maintained than main roads in winter conditions.

When mapping out your route, keep an eye out for rest stops where you can fuel up and take a break—especially if you’re traveling with children or other passengers. Aim to stop every two hours or 100 miles (whichever comes first) to avoid driver fatigue. 

If you do have to take a mountain pass, give yourself plenty of time to reach the top before nightfall. That way, if conditions are bad, you’re more likely to be able to see potential hazards and respond accordingly.

Check The Weather Forecast

Before leaving on your trip, check the weather forecast to determine if you’ll need to take any special measures or make adjustments to your plans. Pay close attention to any warnings that may be in effect, such as snow storms, blizzards, or icy conditions. Also, make sure to check the forecast for your destination and along your planned route in case you need to make any changes on the fly.

When it comes to winter road trips, being prepared is key. Be sure to equip your vehicle with the appropriate snow chains, tire chains/cables, and other traction equipment that may be necessary in case of icy roads. Check the tires on your car for any signs of wear or damage before you leave, and make sure they have sufficient tread depth. If you don’t have winter tires, consider purchasing them. They are designed to provide better grip and braking in cold weather conditions.

Pack an emergency kit consisting of flares, jumper cables, extra blankets or clothing, food and water, a flashlight with extra batteries, and any other items that could come in handy. Remember to bring your cellphone charger in case you need to recharge your device while on the road.

winter trip

Keep Your Vehicle Well-Maintained

Before embarking on a winter road trip, it’s important to ensure that your vehicle is properly maintained.

Make sure to check the engine oil level, tire pressure, brakes, and coolant levels before departing.

Additionally, if you have a snow-ready vehicle such as an SUV or truck with all-wheel drive, make sure that it is in good working order.

If your vehicle does not have these features, and you plan on driving in snow, it’s worth investing in a set of winter tires to ensure better traction and handling during icy or snowy conditions.

If you’re unsure of the condition of your vehicle or if you need any maintenance services such as an oil change or tire alignment, it’s a good idea to have it serviced by a qualified mechanic prior to departing on your winter road trip. This will help ensure that your car is in proper working order and can keep you safe during your travels.

Plan for Unexpected Delays

Winter road trips can be unpredictable, and it’s important to be prepared for unexpected delays. Make sure you bring along extra supplies such as blankets, food, water, and warm clothing in case of a breakdown or other emergency. Additionally, if you will be traveling through areas that experience heavy snowfall, it is important to check the local weather and road conditions to ensure that you can safely get to your destination. It’s also a good idea to leave yourself some extra time in case of delays due to traffic or inclement weather. That way you won't be rushing and can take your time getting where you need to go.

Pack Enough Clothes

When planning a winter road trip, you should pack enough clothes to account for fluctuations in temperature along the way. Think about packing layers—a combination of sweaters and jackets that can be easily removed or added as needed. It's also important to consider the weather conditions of your destination; if it has snow and ice on the roads, bring along some waterproof snow boots and gloves to help keep you warm and dry. Road trips can be long, so it’s important to plan ahead by bringing along entertainment such as books, movies, music, or games. If you’re traveling with passengers, make sure to bring something that everyone can enjoy. 

In conclusion, winter road trips can be challenging but rewarding. With the right preparation and planning, you can ensure a safe and enjoyable journey. Make sure to check the weather forecast before departing, bring along an emergency kit, keep your vehicle well-maintained, plan for unexpected delays, and pack enough clothes to stay warm and dry along the way. By following these tips, you can ensure a safe and enjoyable winter road trip.

Author - Fred Felton
Fred Felton          

Content Creator / Editor

Fred Felton is a copywriter, editor and social media specialist based in Durban, South Africa. He has over 20 years of experience in creating high end content. He has worked with some of the biggest brands in the world. Currently Fred specialises in the motorbiking adventure space, focussing on all types of biking both on and offroad. He is also a keynote speaker and has presented talks and workshops in South Africa.


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