AAA’s Top 10 Tips for safe and easy holiday road trips

1.  Know your route. Plan in advance how you're going to get there – gather all the maps and travel information you'll need. Avoid large cities at rush hour and be prepared for the road and weather conditions you'll encounter along the way. Make hotel reservations before leaving home.

2. Leave in plenty of time. The last thing you need is to be "running late" on a holiday car trip.

3. Pack activities and surprises for the kids to keep them occupied.

4. Stock your vehicle with a winter emergency kit containing ice scraper, jumper cables, warm clothing, flares, sand or kitty litter, blanket, working flashlight, first aid kit, simple tools, snacks, drinking water and a cell phone with a charger cable.

5. Download useful, free applications onto your smartphone. AAA TripTik Mobile gives AAA members and nonmembers alike customized directions to destinations, hotels, restaurants and businesses. Learn more at AAA.mobi.

6.  Make sure your vehicle is up to the challenges of the open road. Check fluids, tires, hoses, belts and your vehicle's battery.

7. Be prepared for the higher gasoline prices you'll encounter outside South Dakota. Check daily price averages at AAAFuelGaugeReport.com.

8. Limit distractions in the car. When you take your eyes off the road for as little as two seconds, you double your crash risk.

9. Drive refreshed. Get enough rest before driving and avoid alcohol.

10. Buckle up and make sure all your passengers are properly restrained with children in age-appropriate child car seats or booster seats.

 AAA South Dakota is predicting 260,015 South Dakotans will drive 50 miles or more from home over the 11-day holiday period, a jump of 1.2 percent over travel levels a year ago. For AAA's full 2011 Year-End Holiday Travel Forecast, click on Top Stories in the AAA News & Safety section of AAA.com <http://www.aaa.com/> .

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