It’s that time of year again when we as Americans prepare for a hearty, homemade meal around the dinner table. For some, it means snatching up the last turkey at the local supermarket and awaiting the arrival of family and friends. For many others, it means hitting the road on one of the busiest travel days of the year.
As much as 40 percent of the nation will travel for Thanksgiving this year– so the roads will be just as stuffed as the turkey. To help make your trip a smooth one this year, we’ve gathered some helpful Thanksgiving travel tips.
Proper planning is one of the best travel tips, not matter the time of year. But it’s especially important if you’re travelling with a car full of family, friends – and little kids who can get cranky during a long-distance drive.
To help ensure you reach Grandma’s house as quickly as possible, download an app on your phone that can alert you of traffic jams and direct you to an alternative route. You’ll also want to make sure to bring along a car charger, so you’re never left without your phone – and your passengers can always get a fresh charge on their iPad or other devices.
Prepping some snacks before Thanksgiving travel can also go a long way in making sure your passengers are happy, especially if you’re with children. Bring along a mini cooler with drinks, fruits, veggies, nuts and chips to keep the gang feeling full, or even pack whole sandwiches if you want to avoid stopping for lunch. To help keep the car clean, bring a small container that can substitute as a trashcan and some handy wipes to freshen greasy fingers and crumby faces.
Travel safety is also important, so make sure your vehicle is prepared, especially if you’re travelling a long distance or might hit inclement weather. Check your fluid levels, test your tires, fill up the gas tank, and have your roadside assistance app ready in case you have any troubles. You can also visit our blog article for travel tips in wintry weather.
Leave at the Right Time to Avoid Traffic
One of the most important Thanksgiving travel tips is when to depart. Thankfully, the road app Waze has released data from Thanksgivings past to let us know the best and worst times to hit the road. Here’s what they found:
- Wednesday before Thanksgiving: Compared to normal traffic levels, you can expect a large increase starting at 11 a.m., but traffic hits its peak from 3 to 7 p.m.
- Thursday (Thanksgiving):On the holiday itself, you can expect Thanksgiving travel to be similar to a regular weekend day (no work-related rush hour).
- Friday:The day after, most people are still enjoying leftovers, so traffic is again similar to a normal Saturday or Sunday.
- Saturday:You can expect a small increase in traffic compared to a regular Saturday. Sunday: Traffic peaks again on the Sunday after Thanksgiving as everyone heads home – the worst time is between 1 and 6 p.m.
Even if you have to drive on the most popular days, you can still adjust your departure time to avoid delays.
Travel Tips to Make the Trip Fun
Road trips, especially if you’re on a long-distance drive, can get boring and tedious for the driver and passengers. To keep the whole car entertained, here are some ideas:
- Create streaming playlists or old-fashioned mix CDs of your favorite tunes to keep up your energy.
- When travel packing, bring along enough pillows, blankets, and accessories (like headphones) to keep everyone comfortable.
- Have a scavenger hunt – write out a list of sights you expect to see on the road. Whoever sees the most items on the list first, wins!
- Download popular road trip apps that can help you find the cheapest fuel, tastiest food, and even the cleanest bathrooms along your route.
With these Thanksgiving travel tips, you’ll have a lot to be grateful for this year – like avoiding traffic and arriving on time with a car full of happy passengers. Make sure you’re covered by one of our consumer roadside assistance plans.
 Zimmerman, Alasyn. “Thanksgiving Travel: Tips for Keeping You Safe.” Nov. 19, 2015. Retrieved from http://www.localnews8.com/news/thanksgiving-travel-tips-for-keeping-you-safe/36551880 on Nov. 20, 2015.
 Abramson, Ben. “Thanksgiving Travel: Best and Worst Times to Drive.” Nov. 19, 2015. Retrieved from http://www.usatoday.com/story/travel/advice/2015/11/12/thanksgiving-travel-best-worst-times-drive/75663482/ on Nov. 20, 2015.