How To Prepare for Winter Travel

At the time this post goes up, hopefully I’ll be enjoying semi-sunny California weather with my family. A lot of that depends on the weather though. We have one super snowy pass standing between us and the lovely California weather.

If the weather is too nasty, we will cancel our trip. No sense in putting our lives at stake by traveling through weather we can’t handle. But if we do have the opportunity to go over the pass, we need to be prepared, in case the weather changes and we get stranded.

Pack Extra Clothes

Staying warm is of utmost importance in bad weather. When traveling through snow, it’s helpful to imagine the worst possible scenario. Normally I’m a fan of packing light, but for this trip, we’ll be taking extra clothes: sweatpants, sweatshirts, socks, and jackets. Layering is important, so the clothes closest to your body stay dry, in case you need to get out of the car to change a tire. Hats, gloves, and jackets are important, too.

Prepare Your Car

Before driving over a snowy pass, make sure your car is in good working order. The last thing you want is to break down in the middle of nowhere, when the weather outside is freezing.

Also important is to pack chains for the car. If you have a Les Schwab in your area, they offer a great deal. You buy the chains, and if you don’t use them, you can return them. So there is no excuse for going over a snowy mountain without chains.

Finally, make sure you pack blankets and a first aid kit. You never know when you will need them.

Don’t Forget the Food

One thing you won’t want to be without, if you get stranded, is plenty of food and water. If you normally pack snacks for a car trip, pack extra. Sandwiches, crackers, nuts, and some fun foods like cookies are all good. And take more water than you think you’ll need. I just bought a case of bottled water.

Think About Special Needs

Finally, if you take medication, bring extra. If you have a baby with you, bring extra formula, if you use it. Also make sure to bring extra baby supplies, like diapers and wipes.

It’s always good to prepare for the worst when traveling, but it’s even more important in bad weather. In our area, we hear about travelers getting stranded on a regular basis. I’d rather be prepared than turn into a statistic.


By , on Nov 27, 2010
Lynnae McCoy I'm Lynnae, wife of one and stay-at-home mom of two. I'm committed to getting out of debt by being frugal with my choices in life.


Popular Articles


  1. Living in the mid-west, I like to make sure the battery is good too! There is nothing worse than needing to jumpstart a car in near blizzard like weather :)

    Great list!

  2. important post! well done

  3. Janet:

    Great checklist! I can attest to preparing your car. I’m horrible about car maintenance, but I’ve learned that a dollar spent on regular tune-ups prevents the need to pay for hundreds of dollars in repair costs. Be good to your car and don’t let your engine flood like I did. :)

  4. Ramona:

    These are excellent tips. We always have clothing, money, food and drinks with us. Plus an extra “tank” of gasoline, just in case. You never know what can happen and being stranded with no food and clothing is far from being funny. And since you’re with the car, there’s no luggage limit as it is when boarding a plane. So, if you need to take some extra stuff, there should be enough room. I’d also advice getting a blanket. You never know.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Disclaimer and Legal Mumbo Jumbo

I'm just an average mom, trying to live a frugal life and get out of debt. I write about things that have (and haven't) worked to improve my family's financial situation. What works for me may or may not work for you, and you should always consult a financial advisor before making important financial decisions.

In accordance with FTC guidelines, I state that I have a financial relationship with companies mentioned in this website. This may include receiving access to free products and services for product and service reviews and giveaways.

Any references to third party products, rates, or websites are subject to change without notice. I do my best to maintain current information, but due to the rapidly changing environment, some information may have changed since it was published. Please do the appropriate research before participating in any third party offers.

For additional information, please review our legal disclaimers and privacy policy.