Thanksgiving is traditionally the heaviest travel weekend of the year with the Sunday following Thanksgiving being the heaviest travel day of them all.
According to AAA, 37.2 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more from home this holiday. For the first time, travel volume will exceed pre-9/11 levels.
So here are our tips on making the trip “over the river and through the woods” and along our interstate highways less stressful.
Plan your trip
Doing a little pre-planning can go a long way in making for an enjoyable trip. Tapping in your destination on your GPS as you pull out of the driveway really doesn’t qualify as pre-planning. Make sure you check traffic and weather conditions. The worst days to travel in terms of traffic volume this year are Wednesday the 24th and Sunday the 28th of November. If you can leave a day early or avoid Sunday, you won’t be sharing the road with so many other travelers anxious to get to their destinations.
Check the car
Doing routine maintenance on your vehicle prior to a longer trip will help avoid untimely vehicle problems. Check your wiper blades, have your oil changed and fluids topped off, have your battery and tire pressure checked. And don’t forget your spare tire. If you need it, you want to make sure it is properly inflated. The combination of holiday travel and bad weather can make a long trip longer if you have car problems along the way.
For more on preparing your car for holiday travel go to Winter Driving Tips.
Remember the kids (and pets)
Trips with young children normally take longer than planned, so be prepared to find ways to make the trip fun and entertaining. Along with bringing their games and snacks take the time at each stop to get them out of the car and do something to burn off that extra energy. Have them run around the parking lot or rest area (with supervision), or by helping to pump the gas, clean the windows, or check the tires.
If you travel with pets be sure to secure them in the vehicle. Having a pet moving around in a car can be a dangerous distraction when driving. Bring water, food, toys, leash and clean-up supplies, just in case.
Limit the distractions
It goes without saying that distracted driving creates unsafe conditions. Using your cell phone, texting, eating, dealing with fussy kids, all increase the risk of an accident. With more traffic on the roads during this weekend, the potential for accidents is even greater. So when doing any of these activities, it is always best to pull off the road or let a passenger take the call and work with the children.
Plan for emergencies
Be prepared. Have contact numbers for insurance, AAA, and family available, along with blankets, extra food, an emergency kit and jumper cables. You’ll be glad you did, if the need arises.
Expect to hit traffic and for your trip to take longer than normal. By building in extra time to reach your destination, you’ll minimize the stress on everyone. Having a GPS available that will show you alternative routes can also be very helpful.
Most of all remember that everyone is counting on seeing you for dinner Thursday, so slow down and enjoy the journey and time with your family and friends.
Happy Thanksgiving from everyone at Beck’s Auto Center!