Special to the News Messenger

Many of us will be traveling to visit loved ones this holiday season. A recent Travel Channel survey found that 72 percent of those planning to travel this holiday season will drive to their destinations. Whether you plan to drive or fly, you can expect traffic, delays, and possibly hot-tempered travelers.

The Better Business Bureau Serving Central East Texas advises consumers to plan ahead when traveling this holiday season.

“There will be extra levels of congestion on the roads and in the air this holiday season,” Mechele Agbayani Mills, President and CEO of BBB Serving Central East Texas, said. “So it’s very important to plan ahead, as it won’t likely be the most wonderful time of the year for traveling.”

If you’re planning on traveling this holiday, the BBB offers the following tips to help keep your holiday safe and stress free.

Create a car safety kit. Holiday driving often includes the threat of dangerous winter weather. Snow and ice lead to accidents, car troubles, long delays and road closures. You can prepare for bad weather by creating your own safety kit. Basics for the kit include a blanket, flashlight with extra batteries, radio, a first aid kit, jumper cables, non-perishable foods like granola bars and nuts, bottled water, an ice scraper, and warm gloves.

Ensure your vehicle is properly maintained. Breaking down on the side of the road can definitely put a damper on the holiday spirit. If your car is due for a check-up, take it to a trustworthy auto mechanic before making that long haul. At the very least, check the car’s fluid levels, wipers and tire pressure. Check the condition of your tires, and if you plan on driving through serious winter weather, consider getting snow tires.

Minimize distractions. According to the National Safety Council, 28 percent of accidents happen when people are talking on their cell phone or sending text messages. When you’re behind the wheel, don’t text and drive or spend time fumbling with the navigation system.

If you plan on flying this holiday season, remember:

  • Flights scheduled early in the morning are less likely to get delayed. Later in the day, chances are higher for cancellations and delays.
  • Look for nonstop flights when possible. Airports will be crowded, and missed connections due to delays are always possible.
  • Travel light to avoid possible overweight baggage fees. Know airline restrictions regarding baggage size and weight before heading to the airport. Consider carry-on bags if possible.

For more advice on staying safe this holiday season or to share your experience with a business, go to bbb.org. To report fraudulent activity or unscrupulous business practices, call the BBB at (903) 581-5704 or report it via the BBB Scam Tracker.