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Holiday Travel Tips

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 | November 23, 2015

The holiday season is here!  Along with it come turkey, Christmas carols, cheer… and holiday travel. “The Thanksgiving and Christmas/New Year’s holiday periods are among the busiest long-distance travel periods of the year,” says the U.S. Department of Transportation. With many miles to go before reaching your holiday destination and lots of other drivers on the road, your risk of something going awry is higher than usual.

Taking steps to ensure your travel plans stay on track and to protect yourself, your car, your home and your family can help keep the holidays cheerful. InsuraMatch has compiled tips to help your prepare for your holiday travels and hopefully minimize your risk along the way.

Traveling by Car

For many Americans, the Thanksgiving holiday means celebrating with family, which can also mean long car rides. Before you set off on your holiday journey, make sure your car and your insurance policy are prepared:

  • Fill up your tank with gas, especially if you’re in colder climates where you shouldn’t go below half a tank
  • If you can, get your car checked out before any long car rides to make sure everything is running smoothly
  • Check your car battery, as colder temperatures can drain its strength
  • Ensure you have enough windshield wiper fluid and that your car’s oil is good to go
  • Avoid travel at peak times
  • Use apps to find the best route possible, like Waze or Google Maps
  • Make sure you have the tools necessary to repair a flat tire
  • Pack an emergency kit, including jumper cables and a blanket
  • Make sure to bring plenty of snacks to avoid having grumpy passengers!
  • Consider purchasing a roadside assistance plan in case you run into trouble on the road or call your insurance agent to see if your insurance company offers a plan
  • Call your insurance agent to ensure you have enough collision, comprehensive and uninsured motorist coverage for trips in traffic and trips that may cross state lines

Leaving Your Home

If you’re traveling away from home for the holiday weekend or part of the week, don’t leave yourself vulnerable. Unfortunately, crime is known to rise around the holidays, possibly because so many people are shopping and traveling. When leaving your home unoccupied, take the following steps to ensure it stays secure while you are away:

  • Remove items that may make your home more accessible to thieves, like ladders, tree branches or anything that could make it easier to scale your fence, like patio furniture
  • Arrange for your mail to be held or have someone you trust pick it up
  • Instead of leaving your spare key under the mat or in a fake rock, leave one with a trusted friend, as typical hiding spots are easily discovered by thieves
  • Cut back your shrubbery to eliminate hiding spots for thieves
  • Install motion-activated lights around your home and consider setting up lights will illuminate all sides of your home’s exterior
  • Close your blinds or use sheer curtains to obstruct the view of what’s in your home if you have items that may be attractive to a burglar
  • Set your lights to a timer to come on randomly throughout the evening and give the impression the house is occupied
  • Avoid posting your travel plans on social media, especially public profiles
  • Consider installing a home security system, even better if it is wifi enabled so you can monitor your home from your smartphone while away
  • Have a trusted friend check on your home during the time you’ll be away
  • Take a home inventory so you know what you have in your home in the event you face damage or theft
  • Review your homeowners policy with your agent to ensure you have proper coverage for all of your belongings

Traveling by Plane or Train

If you’ve got a long ways to go this holiday season, taking steps to make your travel time run more smoothly will make you more able to appreciate holiday cheer. Smooth travel is safer travel, and you should also take steps to protect your itinerary and your belongings:

  • Double check your booking times to ensure you arrive at the right place at the right time
  • Arrive early to make sure you make it to your gate on time with holiday lines
  • Check on your itinerary in the hours leading up to your departure to make sure there are no delays, cancelations or a change in gate assignment
  • Consider purchasing travel insurance, which can help reimburse your ticket costs if certain covered delays or cancelations arise, like illness or bad weather conditions
  • Keep any valuables you may be bringing with you on your person in your carry-on
  • Try to pack light to avoid checking baggage
  • If you do check a bag, use a TSA-approved lock
  • Review your homeowners or renters insurance policy with your agent to see if the contents of your checked baggage will be covered if lost
  • If your homeowners or renters coverage won’t suffice, consider a travel insurance plan for a low-deductible option
  • If you are renting a car, call your insurance agent to review what is covered under your auto insurance policy and purchase additional insurance if necessary