As the busy Thanksgiving holiday travel season begins and colder temperatures blanket many parts of the country, it’s time to pack a little patience as hundreds of thousands more travelers head out for turkey and stuffing this year.
Thanksgiving is the biggest travel weekend in America, and RVers are out in force, back on the road, crossing the country in their RVs to spend Thanksgiving with family and friends. And many snowbirds are traveling south to their favorite Sunbelt roost to avoid the rigors of another northern winter.
More Americans are hitting the road this Thanksgiving holiday, despite higher gas prices, according to the motorist group AAA.
The American Automobile Association projects 54.3 million Americans will travel at least 50 miles during the Thanksgiving weekend, an increase of 4.8 percent over last year.
The 2018 holiday weekend will see the highest Thanksgiving travel volume in more than a dozen years (since 2005), with 2.5 million more people taking to the nation’s roads compared with last year. For the 48.5 million Americans planning a Thanksgiving road trip, INRIX, a global mobility analytics company, predicts travel times in the most congested cities in the U.S. could be as much as four times longer than normal.
The Thanksgiving holiday period is defined as Wednesday, November 21 to Sunday, November 25.
But gas prices are also up, making the drive more expensive this year. The nationwide average price of unleaded gasoline was $2.735 per gallon last week, 6.9 percent higher than this time last year, according to the AAA.
Thanksgiving can also be a stressful time of year.
Consider the following travel tips to help ensure a safe and stress-free Thanksgiving travel season.
If you plan to travel by RV, one of the most important things you can do is ensure all routine and preventive maintenance has been taken care of before leaving home. Have your vehicle checked thoroughly for leaks, badly worn hoses, or other needed parts, repairs, and replacements. You can avoid many of the common pitfalls of holiday travel if you ensure your vehicle is in good operating condition before leaving home.
Inspect your tires and check air pressure. Make sure each tire is filled to the vehicle manufacturer’s recommended inflation pressure. Don’t forget to check your spare tire to ensure it is properly inflated.
Make sure your windshield wipers work and, if necessary, replace worn blades and completely fill your vehicle’s windshield wiper fluid reservoir.
Consider traveling at off-peak times. Leave several few days before Thanksgiving, if possible. You can also save time by leaving early or driving late in the day when most drivers are off the road. You will save hours on an extended trip by avoiding peak driving hours especially when traveling through major cities such as Atlanta or Houston.
Thanksgiving occurs during late autumn, but it also marks the unofficial start of the winter driving season. The weather can be unpredictable especially in northern areas of the country. Plan your travel route in advance. Check the weather, road conditions, and traffic. Leave early, if possible, and allow ample time to arrive safely at your destination.
Develop a solid emergency plan prior to departure. Make sure that friends and neighbors know that you are on the road and are aware of your route and expected arrival time. Know where you can find RV parks and rest and fuel stops along your route.
Carry emergency supplies and items in case you become stranded. These should including snow shovel, broom, ice scraper, jumper cables, flashlight, flares/emergency markers, blankets, mobile phone with charger, extra food and water, necessary medication.
Ensure that you have a quality roadside assistance service plan such as those available from Coach Net or AAA.
Most service plans provide customers with towing assistance, lockout services, dead battery boost, tire changes.
Remember to always wear your seat belt and ensure that children are buckled up in age- and size-appropriate restraints. Children under age 13 should be seated in the back seat.
Never drive drunk or distracted. Driving drunk kills people. In every state, it’s is against the law to drive with a blood-alcohol content of .08 or higher.
We can all do our part by buckling up, obeying the speed limit, and avoiding distractions while driving.
Thanksgiving travel planning doesn’t have to be tough. Make plans, prepare ahead of time, and make sure you have the right help when you are on the road. If you can put in just a little effort, you’ll be able to avoid some of the most common headaches and Thanksgiving travel stresses.
Thanksgiving Day comes, by statute, once a year; to the honest man it comes as frequently as the heart of gratitude will allow.
—Edward Sandford Martin