Whether you find it painful or joyful, winter holiday traffic and its challenges are with us until after the New Year. As people gather at parties, shop for gifts, or participate in weekend treks to visit family and friends, the Interstate can be a wooly wonderland. Add some wild Oregon weather and thousands of trucks hauling goods into the mix—and good old-fashioned road rage may find its way to your naughty or nice list.
Oregon Travel Experience would like to share some stress-busting travel advice to help your family stay safe and sane over the next several weeks.
Tip #1: Check for road closures. Link to the Oregon Department of Transportation’s website TripCheck.com. TripCheck pinpoints roadways where traffic is slowed by construction, and alerts motorists to highway closures from accidents or inclement weather. “Know Before You Go” is TripCheck’s mantra—and their mobile site can save you time and major heartache.
Tip #2: Plan frequent stops. With a little pre-trip research, you can schedule safety breaks at any of our 29 rest stops across the state. You’ll find walking paths to stretch your legs, pet exercise areas to please Fido and Fluffy, clean restrooms and travel information, and friendly uniformed Oregon Travel Experience employees who know how to jumpstart a dead battery. Park your car and have a picnic or try a cup of free coffee from a local non-profit organization. You’ll be back on the road in no time, cool and calm as a peppermint stick.
Tip #3: Get a drink. No, not eggnog and rum—a cup of free hot coffee! Local non-profit volunteers serve free coffee (and sometimes tea, hot chocolate and cookies) at many of our rest areas. Our Free Coffee Program volunteers support awesome causes like Meals on Wheels for seniors, and student scholarships and camps for children. Donations aren’t mandatory, but if you decide to sip, think about a tip. You’ll probably receive some of the biggest smiles you’ve seen in a long time. Groups who serve under our official Oregon permit supply the coffee on their own dime. Donations received from motorists are gratefully used to fund activities within the region you stop.
Tip #4: Buy local. Before leaving an OTE rest area, take a quick jog through a Travel Information Kiosk. OTE manages 10 kiosks at Oregon rest areas and popular waysides. Even if you’re a regular commuter, it’s worth a few minutes to look through our brochures and magazines. You might find a local museum, shopping district or historic site that’s just around the next bend. Remember the poem about the “…road less traveled?” Discovery can be the best part of a trip if you allow extra time for spontaneous detours.
Tip #5: Use your noggin’. Actually, it’s probably easier on your head to use your eyesight and watch for highway signs on your holiday vacation. Oregon Travel Experience highway business signs make it easy to exit the freeway for ice cream when the kids are screaming or navigate to a nice comfy place to sleep. Just keep your eyes peeled for the big blue logo signs and plan for the right exit. It’s a much safer prospect to follow OTE signs than squinting at a 4-inch screen or debating directions with a well-meaning but deluded “co-pilot.”
Tip #6: Join Marty McFly on an adventure. If a holiday vacation is in your future, it’s easy to travel back in Oregon history. Call us at 1-800-574-9397 and request a free Historical Marker and Heritage Tree map. Organized by region, our colorful heritage map displays historically significant trees and nearby historical markers. With approximately 400 tree and marker sites, there’s bound to be one on your route. From Eastern Oregon to the Oregon Coast, you’ll learn something new and educational about the past. Want to cut back on paper clutter? Go ahead and access a copy of our digital heritage map from the OTE website. And, our site is mobile ready, so time-travel can be accomplished on-the-go.
We hope your upcoming trips are safe and enjoyable. Just remember to plan, rest and refresh, sip and revive, discover and learn—and thrive! Happy Holidays from all of us at OTE.