The holidays are here again, and with the price of gas lower than it’s been in years, it’s likely more people will choose to hit the road this holiday season. If you’re one of those travelers, Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota (BBB) offers some basic tips to help keep you safe and maybe save you some money.
Prepare a budget – Planning is important. Make a little room in your budget by allowing for unexpected occurrences and emergencies.
Get a tune-up – If your car is due for a tune-up, take it in before making that long haul. At the very least, check the car’s fluid levels, wipers and tire pressure.
Be resourceful – Book hotel rooms in advance and consider exploring money-saving sites like Priceline or Hotels.com. See if there are any good discount (such as Groupon) offers in the city you’re visiting.
Take your BBB with you – When you’re away from home or in the midst of an emergency, it’s hard to know which businesses – such as tow trucks and locksmiths – you can trust. The good news is that free BBB Business Reviews are optimized for smartphones. Now you can easily find businesses you can trust anytime you’re on the go by visiting bbb.org.
Avoid unnecessary costs – Don’t find yourself trapped by additional charges or fees. For example, avoid hotel room phones, which often carry hefty surcharges. When you’re on the road, travel with a cooler and purchase snacks ahead of time. It’s a lot cheaper than the hotel mini-fridge.
Create a car safety kit – Holiday driving often includes the threat of dangerous winter weather. Snow and ice can lead to accidents, car troubles, long delays and road closures. You can be ready for bad weather by creating your own safety kit. Basics for the kit include a blanket, flashlight with extra batteries, radio, first aid kit, jumper cables, non-perishable foods like granola bars and nuts, bottled water, an ice scraper and warm gloves. Having a cellphone charger for your car is also a good idea.
Get an early start and take your time – The best way to fight holiday traffic is to give yourself some extra time to make the trip, and don’t speed. Also, if you’re caught speeding by law enforcement, that adds travel time and can put a dent in your holiday budget.
Drop the distractions – A lot of tragic accidents take place when people are talking on their cellphone or sending text messages. When you’re behind the wheel, don’t text and drive. Let incoming calls go to voicemail or hand your cellphone to a passenger and let them take the call. Also, don’t make or return calls – or send or read – text messages until you reach a safe spot off the road, such as a rest area or a gas station.
For the latest fraud alerts, consumer news and free BBB Business Reviews, visit www.bbb.org.