With the holiday season approaching, get a jump on other drivers with these tips for a happy road trip
Around 50 million Americans will be on the road in the days surrounding the Thanksgiving holiday this year, according to AAA estimates.
Last year, the number of people traveling over 50 miles during Thanksgiving week was 50.9 million, and 89 percent of those did it via a road trip. AARP studies show the percentage who choose driving over any other method of transportation is even higher among people over the age of 50.
With so many cars on the road, we compiled some tips and tricks to help give you the edge when dealing with those other 45 million people on U.S. highways.
Check Your Car
AAA suggests scheduling preventative maintenance around your trip. If you’re due for an oil change, have it done just prior to your trip so the mechanic can check tires, brakes and fluid levels. If your car doesn’t need an oil change, at least have the tire pressure checked. Also, have roadside assistance information – and your phone charger – handy in case there’s an incident on your trip.
Preparation is Key
With the increasing popularity of in-car navigational systems, the days of plotting out your route on a map are over for most people. The AARP study shows 75 percent of road-trippers either use GPS supplied by their car or a smartphone app. One in five people still use a paper map as their preferred navigational method.
A big advantage that apps like Google Maps provide is real-time traffic updates. The system will adjust your arrival time and suggest detours around traffic jams, accidents and construction.
Take Your Time
Chances are that you are either retired or on vacation if you’re making a long road trip, so take your time! If the arrival time at your destination is flexible, build in some extra time for breaks beyond those for gas, food or the restroom. About two-thirds of people in the AARP survey say they schedule an extended stop during their voyage. If your trip is expected to take several hours, look for roadside attractions or points of interest on your route to break up the monotony and give your party a chance to stretch their legs.
The AARP says 60 percent of survey respondents bring snacks with them in the car. Food and drinks (especially coffee) provide energy for drivers. If you can spare the extra time, bypass the fast food options found in travel plazas or right by highway exits. If you have a GPS, use it to find some healthier options or a local place that might be able to provide a quality meal.
Pack Your Patience
With highways more congested than usual, tensions will likely be high. If you’re in Florida, there will be even more cars on the road because AAA forecasts three of the top-5 rental car locations in the country will be in the Sunshine State; Orlando, Miami and Fort Lauderdale are one, four and five on the list, respectively. So, drivers are encouraged to stay calm and alert. They can also keep in-car distractions to a minimum by making sure passengers are entertained. Have plenty of books, movies, games and whatever else you need to keep passengers of any age engaged.
With some preparation and planning, you will be able to leave the stress at home and enjoy the extra time spent with your loved ones this holiday season.