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Road Trip Guide: 5 Secrets to Beating Thanksgiving Traffic

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Driving Vs. Flying ConsiderationsIt’s no secret that Thanksgiving week is one of the busiest times for travel during the year, so if you’re one of the 43.6 million Americans (39.1 million drivers) AAA is predicting will be traveling at least 50 miles from home this year, here are some tips to give you an advantage.

With the potential of a Thanksgiving storm, it’s important to do a full check of your vehicle before getting on the road. This is an obvious tip, but it’s something many people overlook. Don’t just fill up and take off, it’s important to check your oil, brake fluid, coolant, and especially your tires and tire pressure before getting on the road for a long trip.

1. Plan out an alternate route

More travelers mean more cars, and more accidents, make sure you have at least one alternate route planned out that you can take to avoid huge delays. Try to plan your route along less popular freeways. Even if the mileage is a bit more it will be worth it when you’re driving 65 for that extra 10 miles than stuck locked in traffic for an extra 2 hours. This is also a good idea for those traveling very long distances where weather may be an issue.

2. Have a connected navigator

It doesn’t do you any good knowing about a great alternate route when you’re already swamped in traffic, so try to have a passenger that can look online at the traffic as you go. There are tons of great apps out there like, Waze, and INRIX Traffic. With the help of your passenger and one of these apps you can see where the trouble areas are on the road and proactively avoid them. If you plan on going it alone make sure to pull off the road before using your phone. Distracted driving is one of the leading causes of single passenger vehicles.

3. Leave at an awkward hour

Driving at night may not be fun, but it is a great way to avoid the traffic saving you time and stress. Consider resting all day and not getting on the road until 9pm. It is important to make sure that you get plenty of rest before setting out on a long night drive, as fatigued driving creates a huge hazard on the road.

4. Make your drive on Thanksgiving Day

Generally the traffic is much lighter across the U.S. on Thanksgiving Day itself, meaning that you can avoid the hassle of traffic the day before and get where you’re going without having to leave at a strange hour or risk sitting in traffic for hours. Unless you are traveling an extreme distance, leaving at 6 am Thursday morning should give you more than enough time to make it wherever you are going in time for dinner.

5. Leave Early!

Sunday is by far the worst day to be making your return trip, and the traffic will only increase as the day goes on and the last of the stragglers are getting back on the road. Friday is the best day to hit the road for the return trip. Of course that does not leave you a whole lot of time to visit the family if you just drove up the day before, consider taking off the following Monday and returning then. That way you’ll miss all of the holiday traffic, and have an extra two days to spend with the family — OK, maybe just leave Friday.

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By Steven Knight for