The holiday season will begin in earnest soon, and for millions of drivers that means road trips to and from the homes of friends and family members around the country. Holiday travel, especially by car, can often be an exhaustive and stressful experience, but it doesn’t have to be.
With a little planning, a bit of preparation, and a positive attitude, you might not only survive your seasonal road trip, but you might enjoy the ride. Check out our Top Ten Tips for Holiday Travel below, then let us know you think in the comment section or share your own ideas.
While you’re reading, think about grabbing some GG Bailey floor mats for your vehicle. Our custom-fit, personalized car floor mats will allow you to travel in style and luxury. Plus, they make great gifts for the auto enthusiasts in your life.
1. Make sure your vehicle is road trip ready
With winter approaching, there are several parts of your vehicle that should be inspected and, if necessary, repaired before the cold weather sets in. But this is especially true before you set out on a long drive to Grandma’s house. The five most important things to look at, or to have someone look at for you, are:
- Your tires -- Check for uneven wear and proper inflation (including the spare!)
- Your battery -- Make sure the terminals are free from corrosion and the connections are snug
- Your fluids -- Check the levels of the engine coolant, the oil, and transmission and brake fluid. Change or top off as needed per your vehicle manufacturer’s instructions
- Your belts -- Any signs of cracking or fraying means trouble
- Your brakes -- Rubbing or scrubbing noises generally tell you when your brake pads need to be replaced, but it is still a good idea to make sure they are at least 3 millimeters thick. Any thinner and they should be replaced.
2. Think about your seat
If you are going to be in a car for a couple hours or more, then you are going to want to be as comfortable as possible. For the driver, this starts with the position of the seat, which most driving experts agree you probably have wrong.
First, the back of the seat should be positioned between 90 and 100 degrees, and the driver should place their rear and lower back as far back in the seat as they can. This takes the strain off your lower back and ensures as much as of the spine as possible is being supported by the seat. It may feel uncomfortable at first, but it will result in much less pain down the road (literally and metaphorically).
Next, slide the seat forward so that you are close enough to fully depress all pedals and still have a bend in the knee, but not so close that your knees come into contact with the console. Reach for the steering wheel and you should be able to comfortably control it while still having a slight bend in the elbows and wrists. You can adjust the tilt of the wheel to your liking, but be sure it does not obstruct your view of the instruments.
Optionally, you can also add a Sheepskin Seat Vest Cover or Sheepskin Bucket or Bench Seat Cushion to increase your driving comfort and add a touch of style to your vehicle. Available in seven colors, our sheepskin seat accessories are universal fit for all seat types and they are every bit as durable and elegant as they are comfortable.
Finally, with your driver’s seat properly adjusted, you will need to adjust your mirrors. There are plenty of ideas about the best way to do this, but the obvious answer is to make sure you have the most visibility from each mirror. Blind spots are going to happen, so know where yours are and always glance that way when changing lanes.
3. Clean your car ahead of time
Few things create a sense of driving peace as a freshly cleaned car. Since your road trip is likely to have you spending a significant amount of time behind the wheel, making sure your interior and exterior is freshly cleaned should be considered a priority. There are plenty of products out there for achieving this goal. But at GG Bailey we prefer to suggest a few products that will get the job done with luxury and style while protecting your surfaces as much as possible inside and out.
First, for the outside, our Sheepskin Washmitts, made of 100 percent Merino sheepskin, are soft enough to be ideal for dusting, polishing and washing your car without worrying about damaging the paint. Available in black or grey, our washmitts can be used both wet and dry and with any soap that is safe for vehicle paint. Simply rinse your mitt afterward and it will last a lifetime.
For the interior, we also offer a Sheepskin Duster, ideal for safely removing dust and debris for your car dash, and our Oreck XLAUTO Car Vacuum. This lightweight sleek silver vacuum plugs into the cigarette lighter and has a 15-foot cord for reaching into the trunk and other hard-to-reach places. Plus it’s small enough to store in your trunk or cargo area, so you can take it along on your road trip.
4. Pack your car ahead of time
Far too often the morning of a holiday road trip is a blur of rushing family members attempting to pack their bags, load the car, and hit the road. But all that stress can be easily avoided with a bit of proper planning. Pack your bags the day before and load up the trunk or cargo area before you go to bed and you’ll avoid the early morning travel hustle. Imagine getting up the morning of your trip, enjoying some breakfast, and pulling out of the driveway on time and in a great mood.
All you need to do is pack the night before to make that a reality. You won’t feel as rushed, which means you are less likely to forget something and more likely to load your vehicle in an efficient way. Speaking of loading your trunk or cargo area, we can help you protect your vehicle and add some style with one of our cargo mats. Pick an animal, Oriental, or plaid pattern from our Car Couture™ line, or design your own custom cargo or trunk mat complete with personalization in the Design Your Mats™ section of our website.
5. Plan the route
Few things are as dangerous as trying to adjust the GPS or mess with the map on your cell phone while driving, so be sure to plan your route ahead of time and leave the navigation up to your passengers. Because the roads are likely to be extra crowded with fellow holiday travelers, allow some time for congestion and unexpected stops and you will be sure to show up on time. If you luck out and the trip is traffic-free, you can use that extra time to check out a roadside attraction or skip the drive-thrus and sit down to a nice meal.
6. Create a departure checklist
Assuming you packed your bags and loaded the car the night before, the morning of departure will be a breeze. But to avoid being so relaxed and carefree that you forget something essential (your cell phone charger, for example), be sure to make a list of the things you need to do and the items you need to bring before heading out.
Because most of the big things are already loaded, this will likely be a short list. Think about things like the digital devices and their necessary accessories that power our lives and keep the younger travelers in the backseat occupied, the toiletries you might not have packed the night before because you needed them in the morning, and snacks. Plenty of snacks.
7. Make sure all travelers are comfortable
If it is a long trip and some of your passengers might be sleeping along the way, be sure to carry a pillow. A blanket is a good idea too because someone might be cold when everyone else is comfortable. Also make sure you consider entertainment for everyone, whether that is books, toys, music players, or portable gaming devices. Nothing sours a holiday road trip like a chorus of “Are we there yet?!”
You can also add some luxury and style with a custom touch by purchasing personalized car floor mats from GG Bailey. We allow you to Design Your Mats™ or pick a pattern in our Car Couture™ section. Our custom-fit floor mats will protect your vehicle while also adding comfort and class. There are only four steps to Design Your Mats, but thousands of possible design combinations.
8. Take along your four legged friend
If you are a pet owner, then you probably know your furry friend is more family member than possession, so you should consider taking your pooch for a ride. It’s better than boarding your animal and will make your pet ridiculously happy. More and more hotels are pet friendly, and your destination should expect to host all members of your family, not just the two-legged ones.
Just remember to pack treats and a leash and consider the stops your pet might require. Also, you can protect your seats from eager paws with a GG Bailey Pet Car Mat. Available in two sizes and 10 patterns, our Pet Car Mats give your pooch a cushy seat that protects your interior from dirt and debris in style. We also have pet placemats available in the same patterns.
9. Drive safely!
We shouldn’t have to tell you to obey speed limits and other traffic laws, but we’re still going to say so: Obey traffic laws and be safe. As you know, the roads will be congested with holiday travelers, and many won’t have prepared as well as you, so they will be stressed and rushing, which often leads to car crashes. Take your time, enjoy the journey, and be safe. After all, we don’t want all this preparation to be for naught, so you need to arrive at your destination safely.
10. But prepare for the worst
Driving safely is the best way to avoid traffic accidents, but sometimes wrecks happen that aren’t your fault, so it is a good idea to always be prepared for such situations.
Three things to strongly consider: Keep a first aid kit in the vehicle, and make sure the products inside are up-to-date; let someone at your destination know your travel plans, including the route and anticipated arrival time; and be sure to have the auto insurance and the medical insurance of everyone in your vehicle handy. No one ever expects to be in a car crash, but you should still be prepared for it just in case.
We take safety seriously, and our custom car floor mats are engineered to be the safest available. Special foam backing and our exclusive Mat Loc Clip™ system ensure your mats won't move under foot. Click here to read more about our focus on safety.
What do you think of our tips? Want to share some of your own? Comment below and let us know what you think. If you want to equip your vehicle with custom car floor mats, get started by clicking one of the buttons below.