An important part of the holiday season is spending time with your closest family and friends to enjoy the festive celebrations that come along with Thanksgiving, Christmas, and the New Year.

What's equally important, though, is preparing for your holiday road trip in advance, not only to alleviate some of the stress associated with a lengthy car ride but also so you can focus on arriving at your destination safe and sound.

Follow these 5 tips we compiled with the help of our friends over at Levine Auto & Truck Parts to make sure your road trip goes as smoothly and safely as possible this holiday season:

1) Make sure your vehicle is ready to go. Perhaps it's a no-brainer, but you'd be surprised as to how many people neglect to inspect basic functions like oil levels and tire pressure ahead of a road trip. Don't be one of them!

2) Check weather and road conditions in advance. Winter storms, heavy traffic, and road closures and restrictions can delay your arrival time significantly, so avoid being caught off guard by these things before you hit the road.

3) Buckle up. While the NHTSA says the national use rate of seat belts was at 90.7% in 2019, that still means roughly 10% of the population isn't buckling up. Make sure both you and your passengers are strapped in.

4) Don't keep the heater on. To avoid running out of gas prematurely and having to make another stop to refuel, you should only use your heater long enough to warm up the vehicle before turning it back off again.

5) Be prepared for an emergency. Consumer Reports recommends keeping your vehicle stocked with a windshield scraper, tire chains, hand warmers, water, non-perishable food, and a bag of cat litter in case your tires get stuck.

Now that you know what to do before you head out on your road trip, head into one of eight Levine Auto & Truck Parts locations or visit them online at levineauto.com and make sure your vehicle has all the essential parts it needs to get you where you need to be for the holidays. Tell 'em we sent you!