Hey, take some Christmas-season motoring tips

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 With everyone doing last-minute gift-shopping, traffic is at its heaviest in December.

With everyone doing last-minute gift-shopping, traffic is at its heaviest in December.

The holiday shopping spree has begun, and with it the massive traffic jams that can challenge the most patient of motorists. Then there are criminal elements who take advantage of the season instead of working for their own keep, breaking into cars to steal whatever they can. They know most vehicles have loads of valuable gifts inside.

To put it simply: December is motoring hell.

But you don’t need to stress over this. We’d like to share eight simple tips to help make sure life on the road will be more bearable for everyone this Yuletide month.

1.If possible, avoid routes near malls and shopping centers. It is best to avoid roads where malls are located. Especially those that hold sale activities. Instead, look for alternate paths that bypass or go around these shopping centers. Save yourself the added minutes and extra fuel needed to power your car while you sit idly in traffic.


2. Plan your shopping. It is always wise to plot a strategy when hunting for gifts for family members, friends and workmates. Certain items can be bought in one go in the same place. By making a list of all the presents you need to get, you don’t have to keep going back to the same mall just to purchase said items. And by planning your shopping, you could even explore the best deals from other malls instead of concentrating on just one.

3. Do not keep the gifts you’ve bought in plain sight inside the car. Theft is a rampant reality in the Philippines, and even if malls have an army of security guards, not all of them can watch over your parked vehicle every minute. So when depositing items in your car, keep these out of sight by putting them in the trunk. If you have a vehicle that doesn’t have a secure trunk, at least tuck the items underneath the seats and cover them.

4. Do not put too much merchandise in your vehicle. Unless you have your own freight-moving business, it is best not to leave a month’s worth of items in the car while you continue shopping, because criminals may be lurking nearby and observing your every move. If you already have too much stuff to carry in your vehicle, defer the purchase of the other items for the next day.

5. Let traffic dissipate before leaving the mall. Leaving the mall when everybody else is also doing the same can be a sure-fire way of getting stuck in a gridlock. Or try to shop early or at the opening of the mall, and then leave before 3pm, well before the rush hour. But if you enjoy shopping after the sun is down, it may be a good idea to just leave the mall when it is about to close, assuming you can afford to while away some time.

6. Prepare food or handy presents to give to street carolers. Not that we condone the unsafe practice of beggars asking for dole-outs on the road, but it’s happening out there and the authorities aren’t doing anything about them. So you might as well just stock up on small food items like chocolate bars, brownies or even donuts that you can give to carolers who serenade motorists at stoplights. But remember: Do not tolerate mendicancy by giving cash.

7. Avoid waiting on the side of the road. Yes, we know, this will be a necessary evil this season. Because you’ll likely be asked to fetch the wife and her shopping bags. Or your daughter from her school Christmas party. And let’s face it, it’s more convenient to just park by the curb instead of looking for a proper parking lot. But we hope you know that just one parked car on the street is enough to create a bottleneck. Be considerate. Traffic is already a nightmare as it is. Don’t add to it any more.

8. Use public transport. If you do not intend to shop for many items, consider parking your car in another area where parking is secure, and then just use public transport to go to the mall you’re visiting. The existence of Uber and other ride-sharing services also makes it logical to not use your vehicle this season as regularly as you normally do.

Enjoy the merry holidays, but do so responsibly as you hit the road.

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