The flakes are starting to fall, and for those of us who are vertically inclined, that means ski and snowboard season. But even if you are perfectly geared up to slay the slopes, your trip will go sour if you don’t reach the mountain in the first place. Here are four ways to make sure you and your crew roll up safe and smooth, whether or not you have a shredding Yeti to protect you.

1. Fuel
Let’s face it: gas prices are so brutal these days that they can quickly take the fun out of a seemingly cheap road trip up to your friend’s aunt’s ex-husband’s winter cabin. Our best advice? Download the recently updated—and free!—GasBuddy app. At the click of a button it syncs with your phone’s GPS to direct you to the closest and cheapest gas stations. It’s the next best things to converting your ride to run on vegetable oil!

2. Wheels
It all starts with your mode of transportation and, assuming you are road tripping to your destination, you probably don’t want to go into battle with a pea shooter. It may be fun to see how much gear you can cram into a Mini Cooper, but a good night’s snowfall will leave you digging out rather than shredding pow. For that reason, we highly recommend a burly vehicle with four-wheel drive like the new Honda Ridgeline Sport. Not only is it loaded with room to stash skis, boards and all your other gear, it’ll carry you through the worst conditions while looking badass.

the 2012 honda ridgeline sport is the ultimate winter mountain vehicle

3. Tires
For optimal driving, invest in winter tires. “All wheel drive does a great job of helping you get started, but it doesn’t help you stop or turn,” says Matt Edmonds, vice president of top-notch retailer and consumer resource Tire Rack. “Studless ice and snow tires have biting edges and pliable rubber to increase grip.” Get them mounted on alloy wheels and simply throw them on from T-Day to T-Day (Turkey Day to Tax Day) to spare your standard wheels from wear and tear. Edmonds says good winter tires last three seasons—and pay for themselves by preventing wrecks.

4. Grub
No road trip is complete without plenty to nosh on, and winter trip is no different. But don’t pay four dollars for a freakin’ Slim Jim on the road. Instead, save time and money by loading up jerky, Twizzlers, Corn Nuts and whatever else your gullet desires by stocking up at your local Wal-mart before hitting the road. Finally, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention what you should fill your flask for those long gondola rides. While you might look silly drinking it anywhere else, Sapling Vermont Maple Liqueur will win over even the saltiest liftie and, more importantly, impress any ski bunnies you are trying to talk into your hot tub time machine. Happy shredding, kids!