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Always be prepared

Now that Alberta is out of the deep freeze, people are able to spend more time outdoors enjoying the sights and sounds of the Christmas season.

Now that Alberta is out of the deep freeze, people are able to spend more time outdoors enjoying the sights and sounds of the Christmas season. For many people, Christmas is also the time of year when they get together with friends and family in the province, across the country or around the world.

The AMA recommends the following tips to help make your holiday travels as stress-free as possible:

• Dress for your mode of travel and weather conditions: If you’re travelling by car, pack warm clothes, winter footwear and spare blankets in case your vehicle becomes stranded. Airline passengers can avoid hassles by packing unwrapped gifts, liquids, gels and aerosols with checked luggage or shipping them to the final destination in advance.

• Start your trip well-rested and plan for breaks: Whether you’re driving or riding as a passenger on a plane or in a vehicle, lack of sleep affects your mood and your focus, which can be especially dangerous if you’re driving. Be sure to stop for a rest every two hours.

• Plan ahead: If you’re driving, check weather and road conditions through AMA Road Reports before you set out ( Make sure your vehicle has been properly serviced. If you’re flying, confirm reservations, ensure you have important documents with you, make sure your luggage complies with airline regulations and use online check-in service if possible. Preparing in advance can avoid unwanted surprises. For more tips and checklists, visit

• Bring stuff to do: If you’re travelling with children, be sure to charge batteries, bring snacks, toys, books and lots of other activities to keep young hands and active minds busy. Bored children can gradually wear down yuletide cheer. Play games or sing songs together in the car to entertain and add to the family fun.

• Bring food: Airlines don’t often provide meals and/or snacks, even for sale, so bring some things with you that your family can enjoy. In consideration of other travellers, avoid bringing peanuts.

• Carry a current passport: Canadians travelling by air or land to the United States now require a valid passport to gain entry into the country.

• Plan your route: Before you start out on your trip, visit for point-to-point driving directions, as well as information about attractions, lodging and restaurants along your route.

The AMA urges drivers to keep these important safety tips in mind all winter:

• Reduce your speed to suit road and weather conditions: If conditions are too hazardous to drive the speed limit, slow down.

• Leave room between your vehicle and the vehicle in front of you: For dry conditions, your following distance should be three to four seconds; in slippery conditions, you need a minimum of eight seconds.

• Watch for ice at intersections and brake before the ice.

• Take care to brake properly: Put pressure on the brakes to the point just before they lock up.

• Use gentle braking, steering and acceleration: Never use cruise control on icy roads.

• Drive with your gas tank above half full to avoid gas line freeze up.

• Carry an emergency road kit: It should contain blankets, non-perishable food items, candles and items to increase the visibility of your vehicle if you become stranded (e.g. road cones).

• Bring a fully charged cellphone: Not to use while driving, but to serve as an important point of connection if you become stranded or need assistance.

• If you become stranded, stay with your vehicle until help arrives: Run the engine intermittently for warmth, keeping one window open a crack for ventilation.

The AMA is the largest membership organization in Alberta, representing more than 889,000 members. As a leading advocate for traffic safety, travel and consumer protection, crime prevention and the environment, the AMA represents the interests of its members and the motoring public to industry and all levels of government. Visit to learn more about AMA's products, services, and member advocacy initiatives.