Whether you're headed out for a 10 hour drive to see family or a 10 minute drive to take the kids to school, snow and ice can be a really downer on your travel plans. But they don't have to totally ruin your trip. Here's what you need to know to stay safe on winter roads this year.

Check your route. Before you even leave your house, call or click your local transit authority to find out what the road conditions are like in your area and along your planned route of travel. If the roads are bad and you can delay your plans, stay home! You will save yourself and your family a lot of time, worry and expense by avoiding dangerous road conditions whenever possible. And what better way to spend a snowy day than wrapped up in blankets with the kiddos!

Check your car. If you do decide to venture out, be sure to clear your car of all ice and snow before you start driving. Check wiper blades, tire jack, tires, antifreeze, car lights and your battery regularly this time of year, too. Keep your gas tank at least half full whenever possible, and be sure to carry an emergency kit that includes a small shovel, flashlight, cat litter, extra batteries, jumper cables, a warm blanket, a first-aid kit and non-perishable snacks for the kids.

Check your driving. Winter conditions don't have to keep you off the roads, but they do require you to pay more attention than ever while driving. Put away the cell phone, throw a bag of pretzels back to the kids, and concentrate on the roads ahead. Turn your headlights on and leave extra room between your car and the car in front of you so that you can take evasive action if you need to.