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Planning a Safe Thanksgiving Weekend Travel Schedule

BY: Larry Witherspoon Jr.
A family packs their car for a road trip.

As one of the busiest travel weekends of the year, Thanksgiving weekend is synonymous with long TSA lines and traffic-packed highways. Not only do you have Thanksgiving, but Black Friday also falls during the same weekend. As you start to think about Thanksgiving dinner and seeing family, it’s essential that you also plan a safe travel schedule.

While you may have a perfect driving record or TSA pre-check for flying, preparing for the unexpected is always a good idea. Let’s look at how you can plan to travel safely this Thanksgiving holiday and some safety tips to get your car ready for traveling.

How to Plan a Safe Thanksgiving Travel Schedule

Since the lift of COVID-19 travel restrictions, there has been a yearly increase in Thanksgiving travelers, with numbers reaching pre-pandemic levels in 2022. You can expect this year’s numbers to be the same or above last year as more Americans travel for the holidays. To help you prepare, be sure to:

1.  Expect Additional Traffic

With more and more people hitting the road over the past few years, the highways will still be crowded. This can create additional traffic, leading to longer travel times and more hazards on the road. Not to mention, early cold fronts are sweeping the nation, which means you should be ready for bad weather driving if traveling to any states that expect winter weather conditions. A quick check of the weather forecast for the cities you will be traveling in can help prepare you.

For those flying during the holiday weekend, it’s best to double the general rule of thumb for traveling. Instead of arriving at the airport an hour before domestic flights board and two to three hours before international flights, double the time you give yourself.

Depending on where you are flying, there could be certain restrictions or additional protocols to follow, so having the extra time could be the difference between making or missing your flight. Even if you manage to get lucky and avoid any traffic, it’s better to be early than to risk watching your plane take off without you onboard!

2.  Pack an Emergency Vehicle Kit

For those unfamiliar, an emergency vehicle kit is something you keep in your vehicle at all times that is stocked with essential supplies should you get stranded on the road. Ensuring your car has an updated winter emergency kit with blankets, spare jackets, and gloves is vital for anyone who lives in an area with any winter weather.

If you’re forced to spend the night in your car, certain temperatures can be life-threatening, especially during the wintertime. Some other everyday items to think about including in your winter emergency kit are:

  • A portable cell phone charger
  • A first-aid kit
  • Water
  • Flares or triangle reflectors
  • A pen and paper (to write down critical information such as phone numbers or addresses)
  • A high-visibility jacket
  • Non-perishable food
  • A spare winter jacket
  • Blankets
  • Jumper Cables
  • Masks
  • Ice Scraper

Even if you do not need any of the items in your emergency kit, It’s always better to be prepared than to be caught with your guard down.

3.  Bring Personal Essentials for You and Your Vehicle

Beyond an effective emergency kit, any traveler should bring any personal essentials they may need on their journey in an easy-to-access bag or another item. Items to consider include hand sanitizer (even outside a global pandemic), hand wipes after gas station bathroom breaks, a map just in case you lose reception, and other everyday items.

Just as you would prepare for any other road trip, these essentials are a must-have for Thanksgiving travel, whether you fly or drive. Additionally, ensure your gas tank is filled to its max if traffic is heavier than expected.

You may also consider medications, a basic tool kit, and snacks if you get stranded in traffic for hours.

4.  Create an Airport Plan and Discuss Issues

No matter where or how often you travel, it’s best to get together with those you are traveling with and create an overall air travel plan before leaving for the airport. Be sure to think about things such as:

  • How far is the airport from your house with and without traffic?
  • How long does security typically take at your airport?
  • Do you have a place to stay in the event of extensive weather delays?
  • Are there ways to check in early, such as TSA pre-check?
  • Does the airport have an Airport Shuttle such as AAA Shuttles?

While some get lucky with smooth traveling, there is still a chance that other issues may arise. Having answers to the above questions and similar ones can help you avoid being caught off guard in the event of any hiccup or inconvenience during your holiday travel plans.

5.  Tackle Preventative Maintenance Before Leaving

The most effective thing you can do to have safe travels this Thanksgiving is to take care of any preventative maintenance on your vehicle. Even if you are driving a friend, family member, or other loved one to the airport, staying up-to-date on your car’s maintenance needs can help prevent any major issues later.

Examples of preventative maintenance include getting an oil change, checking your engine coolant, inspecting your wiper blade, or getting a tire rotation. Handling these tasks and others before your trip can help give you peace of mind, knowing your vehicle is ready to take you wherever you need.

Protect Your Vehicle This Holiday Season with Endurance

A thorough plan before heading out can help you avoid unexpected hassles or other issues regarding your Thanksgiving travel plans. Purchasing an Endurance breakdown protection plan can also give you peace of mind when protecting you and your vehicle from the cost of unexpected breakdowns and other costly auto repair bills.

You can also receive one year of Elite Benefits by purchasing any Endurance protection plan and a small activation fee. That means you can access other great perks, such as 24/7 roadside assistance, key fob replacements, and up to $500 in collision discounts for even more coverage and savings. To learn how an Endurance protection plan can help protect you and your vehicle, request a FREE quote or call (800) 253-8203.

You can find many other informative and helpful articles on various other automotive topics by visiting our blog.

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