Whether travelling by air or land, the biggest issue travellers face in the winter time is Mother Nature’s wrath. How many stories have we heard about cancelled or delayed flights, closed roads and other traffic nightmares? There are few things more disappointing than having a hitch in your family plans or vacations, so we’ve put together a few handy tips about navigating the roads and airports during the cold season.
Your biggest enemy with air travel in the winter is the weather. Excessive delays and cancellations, passenger strandings and airport woes can happen anytime, anywhere and to anyone.
Generally, your biggest issue with airports will be on connecting flights at the airport. If you’re stuck at a connecting airport and your flight is delayed or cancelled, you could be in for one miserable day (or night if you can't get on another flight that day). Our advice? Choose nonstop flights wherever possible and avoid connecting flights at all costs if you can. If you must book a connecting flight, leave yourself lots of time between the first flight and connecting flight. If flights are on time, you could be in for a wait at the airport, but at least you know you probably won't miss it if your first flight is delayed due to weather.
Make sure you always check the weather at your departure and destination airports as well as at connecting cities. If the weather looks poor at your connecting airport, contact your airline to see if you can be rerouted.
Choose a morning flight. This way, if your flight is cancelled or delayed, you have all day to find an alternate flight, greatly improving your odds of getting on another plane.
Finally, avoid peak travel dates (for obvious reasons). This is especially true for holiday weekends.
Like with flying, a winter storm can throw a major wrench in your road trip plans.
Have your car examined before you leave. Ever see those climactic scenes in movies where the car breaks down on the side of a deserted road in the middle of a snow storm? Don’t be that car. Take a trip to your local dealership or garage to have your car thoroughly checked out; are the breaks okay? How about the tires? Do you have enough windshield washer fluid and plenty of gas?
Pack a survival kit. This may sound silly but if the previous point fails and you do break down, you’ll be grateful you packed a kit. Don’t leave without the essentials – cell phone (and car charger), bottled water, gloves, pants, boots, another coat, a blanket, jumper cables, a flashlight with some extra batteries, a small snow shovel, a windshield scraper and snacks (think nutrition bars, granola bars, salteen crackers).
Be prepared to change directions. If bad weather hits and you receive word of road closures and multiple accidents, you should always have an alternate route planned. Remember to keep directions handy and preferably a GPS.
Be flexible. If you can, try to give yourself a day’s leeway. Instead of facing adverse weather conditions, leave the following day after Mother Nature has calmed down and check the weather often. This is the best way to ensure your safety while driving. If you must drive during poor road conditions, let someone know of your departure time and anticipated arrival.
Stop often. Winter driving is more tiring than summer driving due to weather and traffic hazards. Take a few minutes to pull over and stretch your legs. Better yet, switch drivers if you can.
Drive safely. Never drive using cruise control on slippery or snowy roads. And when you’re on the road, drive slowly and give yourself lots of room. Everything – accelerating, stopping, turning – takes longer on snowy or icy roads. Avoid stopping on hills when the roads are slippery or else you risk getting stuck.