Things to do when Driving Home for Thanksgiving

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With Thanksgiving a week away, drivers across the country are preparing to pile all the kids into the minivan and head out for a weekend of eating and family bonding. The one downside to this magical fall holiday is the horrible traffic you’ll have to endure before you reach your destination. To avoid any accidents or delays that threaten to get between you and your turkey dinner, check out these tips below. 

Plan your departure time and day strategically

According to an article by USA Today, about 55 million Americans are anticipated to travel by car or plane this Thanksgiving. While that number makes it difficult to beat out all the traffic, it would be worth your while to at least avoid hitting the road on Wednesday afternoon, when traffic will be most congested. According to the USA Today article, starting your trip on Wednesday afternoon could make your drive up to 3.5 times longer than normal, especially if you live in a big city. 

Prepare to leave on Saturday instead of Sunday

The Washington Post published a story of dos and don’ts of Thanksgiving traveling. Maybe you made it to your destination without a hitch, but now that the turkey has digested and the football game is over, you have to figure out when is the best time to head back. It’s recommended that you leave on Saturday since most people choose to duck out either Thursday night or on Sunday. But if you have to leave on Thursday night, be sure not to drink before you drive. Turkey is notorious for making people drowsy after eating it, and adding even one glass of wine to that equation could be dangerous if you’re driving back that night. 

Get off the highways

If you’ve got a long road trip ahead of you, it might be worth your while to hop off the highway and take the backroads to get to your destination. Every highway is likely going to be crowded with holiday traffic, so if you have the time, choosing the scenic route might have its advantages. Getting off the beaten path gives you a chance to stumble upon mom and pop diners, quirky landmarks, and charming neighborhoods. It isn’t often that Americans get to take a break from their 9 to 5 jobs and get outside of their bubble. Make Thanksgiving weekend doubly rewarding by seeing something new for a change. 

Be extra vigilant on the roads

While driving home for Thanksgiving can be a hassle, driving back afterward can be outright dangerous. The National Safety Council reported that Thanksgiving is a particularly dangerous time for people to be on the roads, simply because of increased traffic congestion coupled with increased alcohol consumption. The Council predicts roughly 400 car-related deaths this Thanksgiving season alone. 

Wearing a seatbelt, driving slower, and planning to leave when traffic is less hectic will decrease your risk of getting into an accident. The National Highway Traffic Safety Commission reported that in 2018, 36,560 people died on US roads. So maybe the safest way to drive to and from Thanksgiving is actually to fly. 

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