Winter Traveling in Harsh Conditions – Preparation is Key

Winter Travel

When people talk about Winter travel, you wonder what kind of winter they mean. The kind where the thermometer drops to 40 degrees and school is cancelled… or the kind that gets to -40 degrees and school is cancelled, cars don’t start and people can die due to exposure. Winter is not the same everywhere you go. 

In the Midwest of the United States people winter travel all over the wider area to the states that surround them such as Wisconsin, Minnesota, the Dakotas, Michigan, Illinois and Iowa for their Christmas and holiday celebrations. Holidays together with extended family is the norm in this region, so people have to travel. And many are not flying, they’re driving. Packing up the vehicle to venture 4, 5, 6+ hours away for a few days. This is not a small feat in a land of Winter.

When traveling in Winter weather conditions, there are important things to remember that you wouldn’t think of when traveling somewhere the weather isn’t against you. Traveling in large amounts of snow and below zero temperatures means you need to travel smarter.

Here’s a list of what to bring on your winter trip. This list would also pertain to places like Iceland, Russia, Canada, and any place where winter is a big deal in terms of how you live and move around. 

Preparation is Key

Winter Wear. Not only should you be dressed in warm clothes, but hats, mittens, scarves and boots are imperative. 

Water. Bring a 24 pack of bottles or a few jugs, depending on how many people are with you. Water is one of those things for survival that is as imperative as fire. Which is coming up next on the list.

Candle and matches. Fire can be your best friend, whether to see in the dark, or be warmed from the cold. 

Food. Make sure you have some sustainable food. If you end up stranded for a period of time, there won’t be a meatloaf and potatoes being served. I personally always like to have beef jerky, bananas, nuts and chocolate on a trip. 

Gas tank always above 1/2 full. Always keeping your tank above half full means you will always have some fuel to run the engine and keep warm. It’s not a mechanical thing, it’s a survival thing.

Jumper cables. Dead batteries are all over the place when the temperatures gets really low. Not only might you need them for your own vehicle, but you can be a savior to someone else. Dead batteries are common occurrences whether in a grocery store parking lot or on the side of the road.

A charged phone. Heading out on a long winter trip, over the river and through the woods to grandma’s house, is not the time you should leave the house with a phone at 20%. 

First aid kit. If you don’t have one, buy one that’s already put together or research what should go into it and make it yourself. Bandages, antiseptic ointment, alcohol swabs etc could be necessary at some time. 

As a lifelong Midwesterner from Northern Wisconsin where temperatures can drop to -40, this is what I would want to have along if I was making a trip like one from Eau Claire, WI clear across the state to Oshkosh, WI to visit family on a cold, snowy winter day.

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