Growing up in the northeast meant living close to family, and with that came the big family holiday celebrations. Thanksgiving was one of those holidays that we all celebrated together, at my Grandma’s house in North Jersey. That is until we moved down south to Virginia. If you’ve ever traveled the Turnpike on the Sunday after Thanksgiving, you absolutely understand why.
As a kid, I didn’t think much of it. We’d leave late on Saturday night to make the hour-long drive home, instead of it taking three hours on Sunday. Or we would go up for the day instead of the weekend. We never shopped Black Friday deals and we never left the house except for church the Sunday after.
After we moved to Virginia, the road trips up to New Jersey were farther spaced apart, but for longer – but we never traveled for Thanksgiving. When I was in college, my family made the trip to my aunt’s house in rural Pennsylvania. They were able to travel easily up I-81, an interstate that doesn’t even come close to having the traffic of the Turnpike or I-95. I was leaving from college, so I went to New Jersey to pick up my Grandma. On the way back, we traveled on a Saturday and I stayed the night at her place, leaving early the next morning – the four-hour drive took nine. Nine hours! It was horrid.
But I was among the lucky ones who stayed safe the entire drive. No accidents, no breakdowns, and I didn’t even run out of gas. I’ll admit I was distracted some of the time, and even studied for finals while sitting in parked traffic on the Turnpike, but never while moving.
Unfortunately, the holiday season has a 35% increase in accidents compared to the offseason. Staying safe during the holidays is important for all, and you should be prepared before making any long trips. Here are some tips to keep your family safe, and have some fun while traveling for Thanksgiving.
Travel Safely for Thanksgiving: 4 Tips to Help You Prepare
- Winterize your car – While it may not yet be snowing where you live (or it may not snow at all) the process of preparing your car for winter can be beneficial for any climate. Things to do like checking the battery, making sure you have enough fuel, replacing tires or putting snow tires on, and checking windshield wiper fluid, are all good preventative maintenance for your vehicle. For more tips on winterizing your vehicle, check out the Steel Matters blog.
- Have an emergency kit – No one plans to be stranded, and with smartphones, roadside assistance is only a call away, but the response time can still be an hour or more. Having a few things in your car can make all the difference. AAA recommends a few things to keep in your car, a cell phone charger, first-aid kit, fire extinguisher, and reflective triangles for when you pull over. These things take up minimal space and come in very handy on a road trip.
- Double check car seats – Yes, car seats are bulky and expensive, but they are so worth it. Check the laws on car seats in the states you are travelling and make sure that the ones you have are installed properly. Kids sleep better in car seats and they are safer. To make sure your car seat is installed properly, talk to a local certified passenger safety technician, find one here.
- Get some sleep – With packing and cleaning and preparing for a road trip, parents have a hard time getting a good night’s sleep. My parents would always leave on road trips at 4 am, so we’d sleep for at least half of the trip and then we’d stop for a big breakfast. But this meant they were up early and usually went to bed late. Try to get as much sleep beforehand as possible, to keep from being distracted while driving.
The holidays are a great time to travel and spend time together as a family. Make sure you arrive safely by following these tips. For more information on why #SteelMatters in the vehicles you drive, check out their blog.
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Steel Market Development Institute. The opinions and text are all mine.