Are you ready to brave the roads this Thanksgiving? The Wednesday leading into Thanksgiving weekend is when the bulk of Thanksgiving travel occurs, as hundreds of thousands of Americas pile into their car rentals and head across the country in search of family, friends, and roast turkey. Americans will travel far and wide for their fill of holiday fixings, marking the start of the long-distance holiday travel season.
According to a recent survey by RITA (the Research and Innovative Technology Administration Bureau of Transportation Statistics), nearly 91 percent of long-distance holiday travel is by vehicle. What’s more, long-distance travel by car (to and from a destination 50 miles or more away) increases by 54 percent during the six day Thanksgiving travel period. And while the holidays are intended to bring out the best in in people, it often brings out the worst in drivers. If you’re packing up to hit the road this morning, remember to keep your cool and take your time. The turkey will still be there even if you’re a little late.
Planning for Your Thanksgiving Getaway
The first thing to remember when planning a Thanksgiving trip is to plan ahead. If you can, skip out of work early today so you can beat the evening rush. If you can’t get away early, consider leaving after rush hour traffic has thinned. Pick up your car rental, grab a bite to eat and read the paper. Not only will this help you avoid messy traffic, but it will also give you time to recharge before getting behind the wheel of your car rental. An extra hour or two spent unwinding can help you curb any holiday travel stress.
Make it an Extended Stay
America on the Go, a Publication of the National Household Travel Survey, has found that about half of all holiday travelers make same-day trips for Thanksgiving dinner. Only about 35 percent of travelers will stay the night. Unfortunately, the fatigue caused by round trips can greatly affect your driving abilities. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Traffic Safety Facts 2006, November boasts one of the highest car crash severity rates. During the year of the survey, more than 554,000 crashes took place during November, resulting in 3,160 deaths and 150,000 injuries. The holiday weekend is by far the most deadly, with an average of 570 deaths during the three-day period. Opting to spend the night at a relative’s house will increase your chances of arriving home alive.
What to Pack in your Car Rental
Improve the safety of your independent car rental by packing the following items:
- A GPS unit: Program your GPS before you get on the road. Double check all of your addresses and review your driving route before pulling out of the rental lot.
- Maps (the paper kind): Electronics have a canny tendency to fail right when you need them. Luckily, paper maps don’t lose power.
- A first aid kit: Make sure your first aid kit is fully stocked with all the necessities –flashlight, shovel, flares, pens, paper etc. If you’re traveling in areas known for inclement weather, make sure to include blankets, mittens, toques and other protective gear.
- Distractions for the kids: Antsy kids can make it tough to stay focused on your driving. Less stress is key to an easy commute, so bring along something for the kids to do. Portable DVD players, MPS players, magazines and colouring books are a few great options.
- Car Insurance: Make sure you have a copy of your car rental insurance (or your personal insurance) policy on hand. This will come in handy in the case of an accident.
Buckle up, watch your speed, and most importantly, pay attention. From all of us at Car Rental Express, have a safe and happy holiday commute!