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Road-trip tips for a safe and sane holiday journey

December 20, 2011 12:00:00 AM PST
While many people will fly for the holidays, many more will be hitting the road to get out of town. But getting the family and the car ready can be a huge task. Here are some travel tips to take to heart.

Over the river and through the woods to grandmother's house -- or somewhere else fun. But that promise of fun can be undone with a poorly planned car trip.

"Leave early, take your time, don't get stressed out, take plenty of breaks," said Christina Selter.

Selter is the editor and founder of HerHighway.com. She's put together a list of must-do's to help things go smoothly.

You want to start long before your journey -- like the night before.

"Who's ever going on the trip, make sure that you put everything in the vehicle ahead of time so that you're not running around at the last minute and everybody's fighting and arguing and pushing," said Selter.

Obviously you want to keep gifts out of sight once you've loaded them.

And get as much as you can in place the night before, including the child seats.

"If you put the car seats in the night before, then you're ready to go and the kids can get in, but then again, check them and make sure that they haven't slid around or become unhooked," said Selter.

And if you travel with four-legged friends, make sure they're properly secured too.

One more thing to do the night before: fill the tank -- one less stop before you hit the highway.

But do plan for rest stops along the way, though avoid picking up junk food if you can. This car-travel guru prefers taking smarter choices along with you.

She advises not to use ice cubes, as they can melt and get things wet. Cooler-packs are much better.

And while we all like to depend on electronic navigation aids these days, have a "Plan B" in the form of a printed set of directions with you.

You should also pack things like a first-aid kit and jumper cables.

And one very important tip that gets overlooked but bears repeating: leave early.

"You're going to grandma's, auntie's, wherever you're going. So is everybody else," said Selter. "C'mon, there's going to be traffic."

Go with the right attitude and even a crowded road won't spoil your holiday vacation.

Finally, make sure the car is ready for the journey. You want to check all the tires, and you also want to check everything under the hood. If you don't know what's what, well that's where the owner's manual comes in handy.


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