Thanksgiving is the busiest travel time of the year, and with nasty weather forecasted for much of the U.S. this week, it could be even tougher than usual to get to where you’re headed. Before you hit this road this year, make you and your car are prepared with our list below.
Using GPS or good old-fashioned maps, plan out the route you’re going to take as well as an alternative in advance. Anticipate the places along the way where delays are most likely to take place and plan out ways to avoid them. This way, if you get caught up in traffic on your determined route, you can switch smoothly to your alternate without losing too much time (or patience.)
Travel at Off-Peak Times
Consider hitting the road on Monday or Tuesday before the crowds rush out on Wednesday. On your way back, consider driving back on Friday and enjoying the weekend at home instead of in traffic on Saturday or Sunday. If you have the time, you might even extend your visit to drive home on Monday to avoid the Sunday rush home. Check out peak hours at toll plazas—many of them list these times online—and plan your trip to avoid traveling through at these times.
Bring Your Toll Device
If you have an EZ-Pass or other device that allows your state to electronically collect tolls, make sure to bring it along. This will help you avoid long lines at the toll plazas. If you don’t have one of these devices, make sure that you bring exact change so that you don’t have to worry about stopping for cash or digging around for the right amount.
Beware of Posted Travel Advisories
Before you leave, check out http://www.fhwa.dot.govfor any posted road travel advisories and current traffic conditions. You could also have a passenger check for updates on their mobile device during your ride to make sure that you know what’s ahead.
Driving when you’re tired can sometimes be nearly as dangerous as driving under the influence. While it is tempting to push through to get to your location during stressful road trips, make sure to slow down and take breaks when you need to. You can use apps such as TRIPSTOP or iExit to find your favorite place to stop without going too far off of your planned route.
Roadside Emergency Kit
In case you encounter any kind of emergency along the way, make sure that your car is stocked with jumper cables, blankets, non-perishable snacks and bottled water, a first-aid kit, signal flares, flashlight and batteries, jack and lug wrench, maps, and an extra quart of oil. Don’t forget your most important emergency item: a full-charged cell phone loaded with your emergency contact list!
Maintain Your Vehicle
Before you hit the road, have your mechanic give your vehicle a check up to make sure that the car is good working condition. If you don’t have time to visit your mechanic, make sure to check that your tires, brakes, and all fluids, including transmission, oil, and coolant level. Make sure that all of your lights are working so that you can see and be seen on the road. And don’t forget to check your windshield wipers—you don’t want to get caught in bad weather without ones that are working properly.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, keep your eyes on the road and never text and drive. These tips will help you prepare for a road trip during the busy holiday travel season and arrive at your destination safely and on time. We wish you safe travels and a very Happy Thanksgiving!