Turkey crossing: How to stay safe and prepared for Thanksgiving travel

Thanksgiving is around the corner, which means a few things we all can enjoy – family, food, football – and a few things we'd rather avoid – traffic, accidents and delays. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to avoid the high stress of Thanksgiving travel, especially as more and more Americans take to the road – the average person will cover 549 miles for a round trip, according to AAA.

However, travel is made more stressful by a lack of preparation. Travelers who take the time in the days leading up to the holiday to plan their route, stock up on supplies and ready their vehicles can avoid suffering some unwanted anxiety – not to mention keep themselves and their passengers safe. Here are a few tips to keep in mind for the seasonal pilgrimage:

1. Predict where traffic will be heaviest
If your journey to the relatives' is one you've made time and time again, you should be familiar with the areas where traffic may cause serious delays. As the Travel Channel points out, highways like the I-95 corridor on the East Coast are classic traffic traps. If a section of highway gets congested on your daily commute, you can be certain it will be even worse during Thanksgiving travel. Plan ahead and consider a few alternative routes. During your travel, pay attention to the construction safety and traffic safety signs that will indicate lane closures, delays, road work or other obstacles.

Don't miss the turkey because you're stuck in traffic.
Don't miss the turkey because you're stuck in traffic.

2. Get your car in travel shape
Does your vehicle need an oil change, its tires inflated or the fluids checked? Do it now, before it's too late – there is nothing more frustrating than breaking down during a chilly evening before Thanksgiving. Fuel up before you leave, make sure you have a spare tire and a jack, and even consider getting a full tune-up to make sure there aren't any hidden issues that may arise at the worst possible time.

3. Carpool
Often, someone you know may be traveling to the same place you are, or at least close to it. Everyone can do their part in reducing traffic by carpooling as much as possible rather than each traveler taking his or her own vehicle. Plus, when you share your car with three other people, you only pay a quarter of the costs involved. If your destination is hours and hours away, it's also nice to split driving duties with someone else. Public transportation is a decent option, but you may be subject to delays that are out of your hands. Carpooling gives you some control while providing more convenience.

Above all, take all travel warnings, traffic safety sign postings and other signs seriously. They can tell you about conditions you were unaware of and help you to arrive at your destination safely.

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