Also be sure to carry a cell phone and the numbers for AAA or another road assistance service (don't forget to check if your car warranty includes road service).
* AAA Emergency Road Service phone: 800-AAA-HELP or 800-222-4357
Rent or buy chains before you leave if you plan to drive in the snow or through mountainous areas. Try putting the chains on at home, in your dry, warm garage to insure they are the right size and you understand how to install them. Carry a sheet of plastic to kneel on in the slush while you put on the chains as well as warm, waterproof gloves, a hat and a powerful flashlight.
What if you are snowed in at a ski resort and don't have a TV or radio for reports about local road conditions? Call the state highway information number, which will inform you about the latest road conditions and whether the roads over mountain passes are open. There is no point in shoveling your way out to the car to then get stuck for hours on the highway waiting for the conditions to improve and the road to open. California, New York and many other states' highway systems have toll free information numbers that offer taped, up-to-the-minute road reports. Call the local telephone information directory for the number in your area.
Don't forget to bring music cassettes or CDs from home. Most libraries have a large selection of books on tape, which are perfect for long journeys. Your favorite music, comedy and book tapes can greatly reduce the stress of winter travel.