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Tips for driving on Thanksgiving weekend

Most Americans can’t imagine Thanksgiving without turkey, mashed potatoes or pumpkin pie. But for many, Thanksgiving weekend involves another, much less pleasant ritual: the Thanksgiving-weekend car trip. Whether you’re driving across town or across time zones, driving on this holiday weekend can be stressful, to say the least. Make your drive easier by following these tips:

Know your way

Check your route for road work and detours. Know if it involves toll roads, and how much they cost. This cannot be emphasized enough. Nothing increases stress like getting stuck at a toll booth without change to pay the toll.

There’s an app for that

Get one or two good navigational apps, like Google Maps or Waze. Both apps provide real-time traffic and hazard updates. Waze even alerts you when there’s a policeman nearby. Of course there’s always the chance that you will get pulled over, so be sure to read up on traffic stop dos and dont’s.

Got kids

If you’ve got kids, especially young kids, you already know that you need to pack plenty of extras. Diapers, juice boxes, games, books and other distractions should all be part of your arsenal. But for a long drive on a holiday weekend, your normal stash isn’t going to cut it. Triple your usual supply of necessities, and consider buying some surprises to save for serious meltdowns. New apps, word searches, new toys or books are all great ideas. If your kids are school-aged, consider surprising them with Mad Libs, word searches, puzzle books, Suduku, or hidden object books. When revealed at precisely the right moment, a new doll, action figure, activity book or app can buy you a few more hours’ peace.


Bring healthy snacks to avoid having to pick up fast food along the road. Think apples, carrot and celery sticks, granola bars, cheese sticks, popcorn or bananas.

Allow for extra time

Traffic on Thanksgiving weekend can be brutal and unpredictable. Figure out how long it will take you to get there on a normal day with traffic. Double it, then add an extra hour for each 200 miles you’re traveling. That’s how long it will take you to get there.

Consider returning on Saturday

If you’re sick of your relatives, this may be a no-brainer. Most folks pick Sunday to drudge back home. Leaving Saturday can help you avoid traffic and give you an extra day to recharge before getting back to the grind on Monday.

And above all else

Drive carefully. Police are out in droves over the holiday weekend, and nothing will put a damper on your holiday cheer more than getting a ticket. Drive safely and defensively, and have a great Thanksgiving!