Blog Road Trips 10 Expert Tips for a Safe Thanksgiving Road Trip
Road Trips

10 Expert Tips for a Safe Thanksgiving Road Trip

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With the COVID-19 pandemic still surging across America, Thanksgiving 2020 will be like nothing we’ve ever experienced. Whether you’re taking a two-hour ride to spend Thanksgiving with your quarantine pod or a few-day trek halfway across the country, you shouldn’t leave the details until the last minute. In today’s world, you must plan out your holiday travel.

Consider the following ten travel tips that will make your holiday voyage safe and less stressful.

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Check the Tires

Late November weather can be gnarly. You should check the pressure and tread wear on your vehicle’s tires well before your trip. You’ll find the recommended tire pressure on a sticker inside the driver’s door. Look for uneven wear, particularly on the front tires.

Uneven wear often indicates that you should have your vehicle’s wheels aligned. If you need to replace the tires, give yourself enough time to get the job done well before hitting the road.

Check the Fluids

Open the hood and cautiously inspect all the fluids. Don’t just check the oil! Check the brake fluid, coolant, power steering fluid, and windshield washer fluid.

Carefully top everything off with the factory-specified fluids. You’ll find the specifications on the fluid reservoir caps or in your vehicle owner’s manual. If you’re due for an oil change, get it done ASAP.

Check the Spare

You’ve checked all four tires, but how about the air in the spare? Check to be sure that all the jack parts are present and accounted for, and that you have the key to the wheel locks. If your car does not have a spare tire, pack an air compressor and a can of Fix-A-Flat.

Always travel with a flashlight or two, with fresh batteries stored away. If you feel more comfortable with roadside assistance, confirm that your AAA membership is current before heading out on your trip.

Check the Bulbs and the Brakes

Your pre-road trip prep should include a bulb check. Ensure that your headlights, tail lights, brake lights, and signal lights work properly. Use the buddy system, and you’ll get this done in a flash. If unhappy with your headlights’ performance, road trips offer you a good excuse for a bulb upgrade.

Choosing the highest-rated Philips or Sylvania bulbs can make a world of difference. Avoid aftermarket LED bulbs as they can blind oncoming drivers and present a valid reason for a police officer to pull you over. If your brakes squeal or you feel pulsing when stepping on the brake pedal while slowing down, have them serviced.

Clean the Windows and Vacuum the Interior

Crystal clear windows make every drive safer and more pleasant. Before hitting the road, you’ll want to give all the windows a thorough cleaning — inside and out.

Microfiber cloth and the proper window cleaning solution make this task a snap. Take ten minutes to vacuum the interior and bring a few microfibers along for the ride.

Geek Out

Traveling with friends and family presents benefits and challenges. With multiple mobile phone providers, you have less chance of being stranded without cell coverage. Be sure to bring enough cables, chargers, and battery backup to cover everyone in the car.

Pick up a new game and some exciting new apps for the ride.  Make sure you have a navigation app with traffic reports. Don’t hesitate to take the scenic route and avoid the delays!

Create a New Playlist

Your passengers will love a custom playlist or two for the ride. Put together something new and possibly related to the trip at hand. After all, no one wants to listen to their sibling’s same favorite songs over and over. A Thanksgiving road trip beckons you to discover some new music!

Pack the Snacks

Your car will become a rolling picnic — so pack plenty of healthy snacks! Sugar is yummy, but too much can be undesirable…especially when you have little ones.

Bring a copious supply of beverages. Be well-hydrated, but don’t overdo it. Every rest stop slows down your voyage and exposes you and your passengers to a potential contagion zone.

Packing as an Art and Science

Arguments over packing — perhaps inevitable — highlights a universal truth, nevertheless. If you bury the cooler in the trunk, you’ll waste time on the road when you need to pull over and dig it out.

Proper packing represents Tetris. It takes skill and patience. Leave this task to those who have it.

Don’t Drive When You’re Sleepy

Safety should be your number one concern. If fatigued, take action. Make a driver swap at the earliest convenience. Caffeine can be your friend until it isn’t. A quick 20-minute nap can be an alternative to a cup of coffee. 

And one more thing…

Pack Enough PPE

This Thanksgiving may be the most unique one in our lifetimes. Consider getting a COVID-19 test immediately before your trip — particularly if you will be visiting older friends and relatives.

Don’t hit the road without an adequate supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) for everyone in the car. Pick up a box of face masks, a bottle or two of hand sanitizer, and a pack of gloves. Each rest stop, restaurant, and convenience store you visit places you and your loved ones at risk for infection. Maximize your protective gear and minimize your exposure.

If traveling interstate, pay attention to your state’s and destination state’s quarantine restrictions. Make sure that you complete any pending vehicle repairs or maintenance before you leave home.