Winter Travel Safety Tips

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

It’s that time of year where people are traveling, and the weather is getting more treacherous. Follow these tips to stay safe and healthy no matter your destination.

All Types of Travel

These tips are helpful for all travelers, regardless of how they’re getting to their final destination.

Bring and use hand sanitizer. It may be more difficult to find places to wash your hands before you eat while you’re away from home, but you can always have a little bottle of hand sanitizer and use it before you eat. If you’re traveling with others, especially children, make sure that they also use it and that it is fully dry before eating.

Bring food, water, and medication with you. Have a water bottle, at least a few snacks, and any necessary medication for you or anyone you’re traveling with in a bag that you keep with you. You may be stuck behind a wreck on the interstate, on a snowy runway, or have a delayed train. Whatever your method of transportation, if you’re going somewhere beyond the next street over the potential for delays exists.

Follow the weather. Start paying attention to the weather forecast a week or so before you go, and continue paying attention to it. Will there be an extra cold snap that will drain your car’s battery? Is ice expected that could keep your plane from taking off? If you’re traveling a long distance pay attention to the weather in your destination, and if you’re flying you may want to monitor the weather across the country as delayed planes in one area can lead to delays in other areas.

Know your route. Know how you’re getting to and from your final destination, including which roads you’re driving and planes/trains/buses you’re taking. If you’re taking another company’s vehicle to your destination, see how they handle bad weather, refunds, and rescheduling trips. Will you need your member number to get a good deal on your changed train ticket? Know in advance and have the member number handy when you travel so you can use it if you need to call.


When you drive yourself, you have more responsibility than if you are taking a vehicle someone else is operating such as a plane, train, or bus. These tips are specific to those whose winter holiday plans include road trips.

Do basic car maintenance. Make sure your car has had an oil change, all fluids are topped off, and the tires have the right pressure. Take care of any active recalls.

Winterize your car. Depending on where you live and where you’re going, you may need to prepare your car for winter by changing to snow tires, making sure you have a winter weather version of windshield wiper fluid, and other winterization tasks.

Remove all snow and ice from your car before driving. Snow left on the roof of your car can fall down onto the windshield and keep you from seeing while you’re driving. Snow brooms and ice scrapers are available that can help you clean off your car before you set out.

Carry emergency supplies. Beyond snow removal materials for your destination such as a collapsible snow shovel and an ice scraper, have material such as kitty litter or sand to help provide traction, enough blankets for all passengers, and basic emergency supplies such as a first aid kit and jumper cables. If you’re going to be in more rural areas where cell phone service is poor and few vehicles come around, bring food, water, and necessary medication along with you.

Sources: National Weather Service and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration