Getting away when the weather’s against you
The good old British winter has been known to scupper the best laid holiday plans, but we have five common-sense tips to help smooth the way if you’re about to drive to the airport.
Give your car a “health check”
Plan ahead and make sure all your lights are working; tyre pressures and tread are up to scratch; your battery is healthy; and you are not regularly running the petrol tank dry.
Andy Smith, AA patrol of the year, told Holiday Extras in December: “We all know how tough winter is on us but it can take a heavy toll on your car too. So, it’s very important to make sure it’s in good order for winter. The battery, particularly, is placed under great strain in cold conditions, so if your car’s been struggling to start, get it checked out before the battery completely fails.
“Do the other basic checks on your car including oil and coolant level, windscreen wash, lights and tyres. If your tyre tread depth is less than 3mm, consider getting them replaced as the extra tread makes a difference in winter.
“While on the road keep your speed in check and only drive as fast as conditions allow. On snow and ice, things can go wrong very quickly, so drive smoothly avoiding sudden acceleration or braking, and leave a bigger gap between you and the vehicle in front.”
Check out the AA website for more winter driving advice.
Monitor airport and airline websites
In the age of the internet there’s no excuse for a nasty surprise. Keep your eye on your airline’s website, and those of your departure and destination airports, for delays or cancellations in the days before your flight. Follow them on Twitter, and be aware of anything going on in the news that may affect your holiday too.
Check weather and road conditions
Prepare for travel disruption caused by sleet, snow, ice, poor visibility and other extreme weather conditions at home and at your destination. Look at the Highways Agency and Met Office websites, tune into local radio for traffic news, and sign up for any available travel alerts.
Pack winter weather kit
When weather and road conditions are bad, pack a bag for the car which includes high energy snacks, a thermos of soup or a hot drink, and extra supplies and activities for little ones if you have young children.
Wear warm, comfortable clothing – you can always change at the airport if necessary.
In case of a dreaded breakdown situation, make sure your mobile is fully charged and throw a torch, blanket, pair of wellies, some old carpet and a shovel into the boot; plus hat, coat and gloves for everyone. Pack de-icing gear for when you return to your car after your holiday.
And finally, allow plenty of time for your journey!
Driving in a stressed, hurried state is never a good idea, and if you’re worried about missing your flight you may well be tempted to take risks on the road. Make life easier by carefully planning your journey to the airport, and taking your time.
If you’re already travelling with Holiday Extras, check our weather page for conditions affecting your airport.
Have you got any winter travel tips you’d like to share?