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(StatePoint) Hitting the road for the holidays? You’re not alone. Nearly nine in 10 Autotrader shoppers plan to travel by car this holiday season, and nearly a quarter will travel more than 300 miles, according to a recent poll. But experts say there’s no reason to view road trips as a chore.

Planing ahead for vacation driving

“Holiday travel doesn’t just have to be about getting to where you’re going,” says Tara Trompeter, managing editor at Autotrader. “Family time in the car can be a great opportunity for making memories and a little bit of planning before you get on the road will go a long way toward filling the experience with more fun and laughter.”

To keep holiday road warriors comfortable and content on their drives, Autotrader editors are offering their top holiday travel tips:

• Prepare your vehicle. Do a quick check on the essentials before you head out. Check the wear and pressure on your tires, and be sure your fluids (oil, coolant and wiper fluid) are topped off.

• Make it an adventure. Just because you have an ultimate destination doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy fun stuff in between. Check your route for family-friendly stops along the way, such as a zoo, park or even toy store to give kids something to look forward to while breaking the trip into manageable pieces.

• Keep little ones engaged. Technology features like built-in screens and DVD players can be saviors on the road. If your car doesn’t come equipped with these, consider bringing along a handheld device on which little ones can play games or watch videos. And if technology isn’t your thing, magnetized board games and word games can work just as well.

• Bring snacks. Greasy food isn’t the best for staying alert -- or feeling good -- while road tripping. Instead of relying on fast food, bring along lots of small, healthy snacks to keep kids (and adults) content. Great options include fruits and vegetables that are easy to eat and fuss-free, like carrot sticks, bananas and apples.

• Have patience! Between road congestion, frequent stops and the sometimes bad weather that plagues many areas this time of year, holiday travel time can take longer than anticipated. Allow and plan for extra travel time, and you’ll have a better chance of arriving safely and stress-free.

• Consider an upgrade. Before setting off, consider upgrading your old gas-guzzler to a new one that’s energy efficient and comfortable enough to make the long journey with the family in tow. To help, Autotrader rounded up a list of 10 fuel-efficient family cars for a long holiday road trip that boast affordability, roomy interiors and a fuel efficient 30 miles per gallon on the highway. Among their picks are the Ford Fusion, Honda Accord, Honda CR-V, Jeep Cherokee, Hyundai Tucson, Kia Optima, Mazda CX-5, Nissan Rogue, Subaru Outback and the Toyota Camry. To learn more, visit

With the right strategies for happy holiday travels, you can begin your vacation the second your wheels hit.




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