Tips for avoiding holiday traffic

Take the time to plan your summer road trip to reduce the chances of arriving at your destination tired, grumpy, and stressed.

Plan your summer road trip in advance and arrive at your destination fresh and ready to enjoy your break.

Many of us are looking forward to getting away over the summer holiday period. Unfortunately, there’s one hurdle we need to get over before the real holiday can start, and that’s the dreaded holiday traffic.

Here are our tips on how you can avoid the holiday jam or keep your cool if you find yourself stuck in one.

Holiday Journey Planner

Planning is vital for a smooth journey. If you can check traffic predictions and road works before you leave, you’ll be better prepared for what’s ahead on your drive.

Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency has a handy tool called Holiday Journey Planner, which is an interactive prediction map for holiday periods. It shows you when they expect traffic to be heavy, based on travel patterns from previous years. It also provides live camera feeds of the areas you could be passing through.

As predicted peak times can change because of road incidents, weather, and even driver behaviour, you should check the real-time Journey Planner before you leave, so you’ve got the latest information on road works, traffic, road closures and delays.

Most modern navigation systems – including Google Maps –are also able to detect if there’s traffic on your route and offer detours.

Check the weather

It’s a good idea to keep an eye on the weather forecast for your travel route, as this can affect your journey time. For example, heavy rain can slow things down and, if you’re towing a caravan or boat, or have roof racks or bikes attached to your car, you’ll need to take extra care when driving in strong winds.

If the forecast is for high temperatures and it’s likely you’ll be stuck in traffic, make sure you have enough food and water packed in your car. You’ll be glad for the hydration, especially in hot weather, particularly if you’re traveling with children and pets.

Try and leave early

There’s nothing worse than being caught in peak-time traffic. The earlier you leave, the more likely you’ll be able to avoid congestion. And, if you give yourself extra time for travelling, you’ll feel less stressed and hurried while you’re driving.

It’s worth doing as much packing and preparation the night before your trip, so you don’t find yourself rushing to leave the next day. Make sure you do your car checks, such as oil and water levels, well in advance. You should also make sure that you, and anyone else who will be sharing the driving, get plenty of sleep before the long drive.

What to do if you’re caught in traffic

Sometimes, holiday traffic is unavoidable despite your best efforts to leave early and plan your route. If you find yourself stuck in traffic, the key is to not get frustrated. As the driver, it’s your responsibility to get you and your passengers to your destination safely. When you’re frustrated, this can result in risky driving manoeuvres.

It also pays to make sure you have enough snacks and water packed in the car so you and your passengers are as comfortable as possible while waiting in traffic queues. If you have children in the car, be sure to pack extra entertainment. You could also use this time to play games such as ‘I Spy’ with them.

If you really don’t want to endure being stuck on the road in traffic, you could find the nearest food stop and wait until the peak passes. You can use this time to get some rest, stretch your legs, and get some fresh air.

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