Millions of Americans – almost 51 million– hit the road for the Thanksgiving holiday travel weekend. Amid kid wrangling, meal planning, and grocery shopping, road trips can be overwhelming. Fall, Winter, Spring, or Summer – holiday travel can put some strain on the fun. Make the most of it by using these 6 tips to survive holiday travel!

(If your traveling with kids, check this story for tips on keeping your vehicle crumb-free!)

1. Perform short car maintenance check

Early in trip planning and preparation, perform a check of the following car maintenance routines to address safety issues before you hit the road:

  • Check tire pressure and tread depth
  • Check that your flat tire replacement and jack are in good order
  • Check and/or replace wiper blades
  • Fill windshield washer fluid reservoir
  • Test your car battery
  • Check chains if driving in snowy areas

Family packing car for holiday travel2. Prepare DIY survival kits for your road trips

Always be road trip smart and keep essential car travel survival kit items in your trunk for roadside emergencies.

DIY road trip survival kit checklist:

  • Sand, cat litter, or traction mats for slippery, oily, or snowy road conditions
  • Small shovel
  • Gloves, hats, rain protection, warm clothing, and blankets
  • Toilet paper and a basic first aid kit
  • Flashlights with fresh batteries
  • Warning flares or triangles
  • Shop rags or paper towels
  • Drinking water and nonperishable snack bars
  • Basic hand tools, including a screwdriver, hammer, etc.
  • Battery or solar powered phone chargers

3. Avoid traveling during holiday rush hour

Google Travel says it has found that the Wednesday before and Sunday after Thanksgiving are the busiest travel days of the season. If you are trip planning around any holiday, check reliable sources and rearrange plans for off-peak times.

In order not to stress and create unsafe conditions, stay calm and pull over for meals or rests when traffic is overwhelming. Avoid road rage and aggressive driving.

4. Avoid car break-ins and losses on holiday travel

Especially when driving a rental car, travelers are targets for robbers. Keep an eye on in-car valuables and lock suitcases and valuables in trunks whenever possible. Or take shifts staying with packed cars at pit stops.

Municipalities across the country are stepping up efforts to reduce holiday thievery. Obvious incentives for robbers are quick grabs of viewable objects. Thieves peer through car windows to see what’s inside. They also know holiday travel means valuable presents stowed inside.

When stopping for a break on a road trip, leave the vehicle in shifts so someone is always present. Once you’ve reached your destination, be sure to remove everything of value inside. Don’t just check once – we recommend checking twice.

Theft Prevention Trips for the Road: 

  • Keep valuables locked in glove-boxes or trunks
  • Take pit stops in shifts to not leave the car unattended
  • Empty the car completely at destinations
  • Double check that nothing is left behind or in sight

5. Long distance driving tips have to include periodic breaks

Make sure drivers switch or take breaks every two hours or 100 miles. This will keep the driver alert, aware, and ready to handle any situation holiday travel may bring. If possible, try not to leave the driver as the only awake person. Take naps when needed. Be extra cautious on long-straight roads where the monotony can cause sleepiness or distraction.

Remember this driver safety checklist

  • Break from driving every 2 hours or 100 miles
  • Keep the driver company
  • Switch drivers when possible
  • Be cautious on long straight roads
  • Stop and nap when needed

6. Practice safe driving. Be mindful of trucks.

Larger vehicles don’t get much respect on our highways. They’re often the victims of our anger and frustration. It takes trucks longer to stop and veering is dangerous, so they need extra room. Do not tailgate or cut-off trucks, larger vehicles, or vehicles with tow. We may think the sheer size of trucks makes them invincible to other vehicles, but that size can actually be a stressful detriment to a trucker’s driving experience.

Take extra steps for defensive driving around trucks

  • Keeping your turn signal on longer than normal
  • Making 100% sure the truck is clear of your vehicle before changing lanes
  • Do not tailgate
  • Do not cut off trucks, or anyone