Thanksgiving Travel - When Is the Best Time to Travel?

By Insurance.com Posted : 11/25/2008

Thanksgiving is almost upon us, and soon millions of Americans will be flooding America's highways, airports, and train stations to get to Grandmother's house. But do you know the most popular means of transportation for Thanksgiving travel? According to a AAA estimate, 81 percent of Americans will travel to their Thanksgiving destination via car this year. Surprised by this number? Although car travel has decreased slightly compared to last year, the falling price of gas means people have largely not shifted to using buses or trains. The weakening economy will force more people to stay home this Thanksgiving, but those that can travel will still do so by car.

Preparing for Thanksgiving Travel
When traveling to your Thanksgiving destination, give yourself plenty of time for the trip. Experts recommend that people leave as early as possible on Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving, to beat the evening traffic. If you're not able to leave early on Wednesday, then consider leaving after rush hour has ended. "Instead of hitting the roads right after work, go home, have dinner and relax for a little bit. This will help you refresh and refuel before you head out on your big trip," says Sam Belden, Insurance.com VP. "Giving yourself some time to unwind before you head out on the road will help alleviate any potential road rage or aggression brought on by holiday traveling and stress."

Planning for your Thanksgiving Trip
With the state of the economy and the upcoming holiday shopping season, Thanksgiving travel can take a toll on your pocketbook. To help you budget, AAA offers a Fuel Cost Calculator that allows you to estimate the fuel cost of your trip. Simply enter your starting destination, ending destination, and your vehicle make, year and model. Based on that information, AAA will provide you with estimates for traveling mileage, gas usage, and fuel costs. AAA breaks this information down into two categories: one-way trip and two-way trip. If you are traveling with another individual or a group, you can split up the cost of gas accordingly.

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Round trip Travel vs. Extended Thanksgiving Stays
According to America on the Go, a publication of the National Household Travel Survey (NHTS), about half of holiday travelers make same-day trips without spending the night for Thanksgiving. Only about 35 percent of travelers stay overnight during the Thanksgiving weekend, with most stays averaging one to three nights. During the Christmas/New Year's holidays, that average increases to almost four nights.

Thanksgiving Travel Safety
With so many Americans traveling round trip on Thanksgiving Day, travel safety is a great concern for many. So to help keep you and your loved ones safe, Insurance.com offers these Thanksgiving Day travel tips.

  • Pack an emergency road kit in case of a breakdown or accident. Make sure to include a flashlight, shovel, first aid kit, flares, pen, and paper.
  • Make sure to have a copy of your car insurance card in your glove box and/or wallet/purse.
  • Don't forget to pack your cell phone and car charger-"you never know if you are going to get caught in traffic.
  • Buckle up and watch your speed! Law enforcement will be out in full force during the Thanksgiving holiday, so make sure to take your time getting to your destination, and be sure to buckle up-"it can help save your life!
  • Fuel up, don't fill up. During the holidays, people tend to overeat, causing many to become sleepy. If you have a long trip home, make sure to give your food plenty of time to digest and fill up your travel mug with some coffee. If you know you will be traveling late, try putting a peppermint or cinnamon air freshener in your car. Studies suggest that the smell of peppermint or cinnamon may help drivers stay alert while traveling.

Thanksgiving Travel Statistics
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's (NHTSA) Traffic Safety Facts 2006 (its most recent), November is one of the months with the highest car crash severity. According to the NHTSA, November had 554,000 total crashes, 3160 resulting in fatality and 150,000 resulting in injury. In addition, the Thanksgiving holiday period is one of the most deadly periods of the year, with an average of 570 deaths - something to think about as you head to your Thanksgiving destination. While it is important to practice good driving habits and follow the speed limit, you can't always control the behavior of the drivers around you. However, you should still take extra precautions while driving this Thanksgiving.

Do you have any questions or comments? Please let us know.

Originally posted October 25, 2007.

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