Thanksgiving is a time to gather with our loved ones and share what we’re grateful for each year. These days, Thanksgiving often means some form of travel. Recently, AAA reported that more than 54 million Americans would be traveling more than 50 miles away from home for Thanksgiving, which was the most travel in over a decade! While many of those travelers were taking planes, trains, buses, or cruise ships, most travelers (48.5 million) get around by automobile. Chances are you’ll be spending some time in a vehicle this Thanksgiving. That’s why we’re sharing our top 5 Thanksgiving travel tips.
1. Choose the best time of day to drive.
Thanksgiving is always on a Thursday, which means people generally leave for their trip on Wednesday evening or Thursday morning. If you can, avoid driving after dark. Your visibility is reduced at night, and you’re likely to become fatigued. Also, drivers are more likely to speed since there are fewer vehicles on the road. Speeding, reduced visibility, and fatigue are a dangerous combination.
2. Determine your route.
Your route might depend on what time of day you hit the road. Try to avoid driving through the city during rush hour, and take the freeway when you can. Check out your state’s Department of Transportation website to find out what areas on your route are under construction, and avoid those if possible. If you’re using a GPS system, familiarize yourself with the route before you leave. A GPS device or app on your smartphone is handy, but keep in mind that technology is not foolproof. There could be closed roads your GPS doesn’t know about, or you could drive through an area with no service. It’s handy to have a paper map (and a passenger to navigate for you), just in case.
3. Limit your driving time.
Once you know your route, check to see how many miles you’ll be driving and how long it will take, especially if you’re traveling a far distance. If only one person is driving, it’s recommended not to exceed 6 to 8 hours of driving in any one day. When you share the driving, the total driving time should not be more than 10 or 11 hours. You should take rest stops every two to three hours and plan a one-hour stop for meals.
4. Have your vehicle serviced.
We all know we should get our vehicles serviced regularly, but it’s even more important before a long trip. No one wants to be stranded on the side of the road, especially when there’s turkey waiting for us! A few days before Thanksgiving, check the following on your vehicle:
- Tires (check inflation, condition of the tires, balance, and alignment)
- Windshield wiper blades
- Brakes for wear and/or adjustment
- Engine compartment for oil, radiator, transmission, and windshield wiper fluids
- Belts and hoses for wear
By making sure your vehicle is ready to go, you’ll have an easier time getting to your destination!
5. Pack appropriately.
Our final tip is to pack your vehicle appropriately for your trip. Don’t overload your vehicle. Pack the heaviest items in the bottom of your trunk and put lighter objects in a car-top carrier if you have them. Check your owner’s manual for your vehicle’s load capacity. Keep in mind that adding too much weight to your vehicle will impact your steering and your vehicle’s balance.
If you stack suitcases and luggage on the back seat or behind it, make sure they do not obstruct your view. Make sure you have clear visibility through the back windshield and all mirrors at all times. If you’re bringing prepared dishes with you, make sure they are secure.
Make sure to keep track of the forecast leading up to your travel days. Depending on where you are in the country, November can mean sunshine or snowstorms. Here are a few ideas of things to bring along:
- An extra set of keys
- A car charger for your cell phone
- An emergency kit (flashlight, first-aid, screwdriver, pliers, adjustable-end wrench and socket set)
- Jack (for changing tires), spare tire, lug wrench, wheel blocks, and battery jumper cables
- Water and high-energy snacks (like protein bars)
- Window scraper, chains, shovel, traction material (such as cat litter or sand) and warm clothing for cold and/or snowy weather
Always be prepared!
Happy Thanksgiving! We hope your travels are smooth and you get to enjoy time with your loved ones.
For more driving tips like these, check out our website! We offer fun and engaging online courses to help drivers of all ages learn new skills, brush up on driving laws, meet court requirements, or get insurance discounts. Visit our website today to see what courses we offer in your state!