In the popular imagination, we celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas at home. Our living rooms and kitchens are festooned with seasonal decorations and filled with the delectable smells of the season. We remember, as the saying goes, that home is where the heart is.
In reality, many of us head our onto the nation’s highways, packing SUVs full of irritated children and bulging suitcases, braving icy roads and wintry weather on multi-day treks across the country. Our hearts might not be in it, but the grandparents aren’t coming to us this year.
Allow us, then, the space for some irritating but needed advice.
Slow down, take your time, and be safe.
Your loved ones can wait an hour or two extra for your arrival. Your safety and security — and the safety and security of other drivers sharing the interstates with you — depend on it. Speeding, for example, while no doubt tempting as the children in the backseat start to throw Happy Meal toys at each other and sing Baby Shark at the top of their lungs, only increases the changes of a dangerous accident.
Here are some basic tips. Yes, they might be basic, but the basics matter in times like this.
• Make sure your route is planned and tested. Don’t try to cover too much ground during a day. Ensure that you’ve included time for bathroom and snack breaks.
• Get your rest the night before. If you plan to leave early, get to bed early. You can’t be a safe driver if you’re sleep deprived.
• Roll with the punches. If you encounter traffic snarls or the otherwise unexpected (one of your children starts throwing up for no apparent reason), be willing to change course and do what needs to be done. Trying to power through works on occasion, but not always.
• Make sure you have a road emergency kit packed. You can look online to figure out the best components, or simply visit your favorite big box store to examine the options. While you hope not to need road flares or blankets or jumper cables, you never know.
• Above all, and as we’ve already said, take your time. We are so often pressured to move more quickly. Don’t let the schedule get in your head. You will get there when you get there.
We can’t always avoid the hassle of holiday travel. But we can work to make it as smooth as possible. And you can always tell the grandparents they have to drive next year.