Tips to survive winter travel

Winter is a magical time for adventures. The holiday season brings families together and despite the shorter days, winter is a great time to get outdoors and frolic in a snowy wonderland.

Travelling in the winter has its own charm but be sure to take precautions in case of inclement weather. Here’s advice on how to stay safe during road trips and outdoor recreation all winter travel season.

Travel insurance is essential for protecting you and your family this winter. Did you know that your government health insurance plan may not fully cover you if you’re travelling outside of your home province? Emergency medical benefits by Allianz Global Assistance can help you fill coverage gaps. We also offer trip cancellation benefits that reimburse non-refundable expenses if your trip is cancelled, delayed or postponed for a covered reason.

Let’s say you’re in need of some warmth and relaxation during the depths of winter. You decide to load up the car for a trip to the popular Radium Springs in Kootenay National Park, for a hot soak surrounded by a snowy canyon backdrop. Keep the journey relaxing by taking the time to thoroughly plan your trip before buckling up.

Know before you go: During the week leading up to your drive and particularly the night before, keep an eye on weather and road conditions. The Canada page of Highwayconditions.com has updated information on the road conditions in each province.

What to pack: Assemble an emergency kit in case you get stranded enroute. Items to include are a snow shovel, broom and ice scraper; sand or kitty litter in case your car gets stuck in snow; jumper cables, flashlight and flares, blankets, a cell phone and charger, water, food, and any essential medicine.

Check your car: Go over our list of any potential vehicle maintenance and safety items at key times before your trip:

  • Check your tire pressure to ensure each tire is filled to the tire pressure indicated in your vehicle’s manual. Inspect your tires for any damage such as punctures, sidewall bulges or other surface flaws and attend to repairs before your trip. Check that your spare tire is in good condition.
  • Secure your child snuggly in a car seat. When your child wears a thick winter coat, they can’t be fastened tightly in their cars eat. Dress your child in thinner, warm layers before buckling your child in the seat and then cover them with a blanket for warmth.
  • Have a mechanic check your battery over. In cold weather, gasoline and diesel engines require more battery power to start and the range of electric vehicles may be shorter. A mechanic can identify any repairs or replacements needed for your charging system and battery.
  • Check that your vehicle headlights, turn signals, emergency flashers, brake lights and interior lights are functional.
  • Have a mechanic inspect your coolant system by checking for any leaks, worn hoses or other repair items.
  • Plan for the possibility of reduced visibility during a winter storm by replacing worn wiper blades and filling your windshield fluid reservoir with de-icer.

Know what to do in an emergency on the road. If you are stranded, make sure your car can be seen by using road flares and other markers. Leave your car’s interior light on. Beware of carbon monoxide poisoning while heating your car. Make sure your exhaust pipe isn’t blocked by snow and run your car sparingly for warmth to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.

Canada is one of the world’s best destinations for winter sports and outdoor fun. Join the festivities at the annual Winterlude and skate on the Rideau Canal; the world’s largest ice rink. Strap on your cross country skis and hit wooded and lakeside trails in the Southern Saskatchewan forest in Moose Mountain Provincial Park.

Here’s how to keep warm and avoid emergencies that could put a stop to your winter fun.

  • Choose appropriate clothing for your outdoor activity. Avoid cotton and opt for synthetic layers or wool, which dry quickly when wet. Dress warmly by wearing an inner layer, followed by an insulation layer made of a natural fiber or fleece to retain heat, topped by a wind and water resistant outer shell.
  • Cover all of your skin. Wear a neck gaiter or similar protection over your cheeks and nose and a hat or headband over your ears. Keep your hands warm by layering midweight fleece gloves under waterproof shell mittens or gloves. Synthetic or wool socks under waterproof boots are best for keeping feet warm and dry.
  • Wear sunscreen and tinted shades. Snow can reflect sunlight on overcast days, which can cause sunburn. Your neck and chin are particularly vulnerable to sunburn in these conditions.
  • Keep batteries warm by storing essential devices close to your body. Cold weather can drain batteries quickly, particularly alkaline batteries.
  • Always bring along at least one companion on your outdoor adventures and let a trusted person know where you are headed.
  • Know the signs of hypothermia and frostbite and take preventative steps. Know what to do if you have frostbite or hypothermia.

Get a travel insurance quote today to find out how Allianz Global Assistance can help you travel with peace of mind.

Travel insurance is underwritten by CUMIS General Insurance Company, a member of The Co-operators Group of Companies, administered by Allianz Global Assistance, which is a registered business name of AZGA Service Canada Inc
Travel protected with Allianz Global Assistance
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