November is speeding along and the holiday season official starts next week for most Americans. Before the crowds surge, and the trees or menorahs leave their storage areas, we take a moment to give thanks for the things in life that we sometimes overlook due to our busy day-to-day lives. This day of thanks usually means family, fun, football, that huge parade in NYC and an overabundance of food. It also means traveling. You would be one of the 45 million travelers during this Thanksgiving holiday, with 90% of you driving. Imagine the traffic!
Before you hit the road, Women Auto Know wants to make sure that you and your car are ready for the journey. Here are a few tips to keep in mind this upcoming holiday:
Check your car before you leave: I always quote Benjamin Franklin’s saying, “An ounce of prevention, is better than a pound of cure.” By taking an hour or two to go over your car before you leave, you could potentially save yourself HOURS of hair-rending time on the side of the highway.
– Check your tires. Is the tire pressure correct? See any weird bulges, dry rot, cuts or cracks? Is your spare tire hiding in your trunk, like you think, or did you forget to return/replace it? Is it ok to drive on incase one of your tires go flat?
– Check your visibility. Have any errant leaves stuck to your windshield? Bugs? Mess from birds? 90 % of driving decisions are based on visibility. Increase your chances of an uneventful road trip by ensuring your windshield is clean and your wipers are functioning well.
– Check your fluids. Speaking of visibility, check your windshield wiper fluid. You wouldn’t want to go to clean your windshield and not be able to. While you’re under the hood, check your anti-freeze, your brake fluid and your oil. Don’t forget to include your gas in that fluid check! Make sure you have a full tank.
– Check your belts. Drive belts run all of the accessories on your engine, including your water pump, power steering, and alternator. Open the hood and look at them. If they are cracked, frayed, worn, or if you haven’t replaced them in a long while, have them inspected. If your timing belt is near the recommended time for replacement, don’t play Russian roulette.
Plan ahead: Now that your car has been checked out and you feel your ready to go, this is where pre-planning comes into play. November is National Geography Awareness month, but that doesn’t mean you want to go on an exploratory mission like Lewis and Clark on your way to Granny’s house. Here are some things to keep in mind when you’re mapping out your trip.
– You’re probably thinking to yourself, “I have GPS in my car/on my phone/in my glove box, I don’t need to map anything out. It does it for me!” That may be true, but using your GPS also has drawbacks. Four out of 10 accidents happen because of technological distractions. And that’s not just texting anymore, it easily includes your GPS system. We all know that the GPS is constantly correcting itself if you happen to miss a turn or an exit, and goodness forbid if you try to keep up those last minute changes. I recently read an article about a man who made a left turn at the urging of his GPS and ended up on train tracks! Thankfully, he was able to correct the situation before a train hit him but that goes to show you that GPS systems aren’t infallible. Here are a few things to keep in mind when using your GPS system.
- Use your GPS to plan your route out ahead of time. That way you can choose whether you want to ride on major highways or back roads. Plus you’ll get a good idea of how much time the trip will take
- Keep a paper map in your car and mark it with the route you choose, plus an alternate. I constantly think I’ve packed everything and then an hour into the trip the battery light is blinking on my GPS and I suddenly remember the charger is on the kitchen counter. If you have a paper map in your glove box, you don’t need a charger! Have the passenger in your front seat become your co-captain and you can keep your course.
- Mount your GPS/Phone on the dashboard. Holding the GPS in your hand because you don’t have something to mount it on to leaves you with one hand to drive, but it’s a two-hand job! Plus glancing down into your lap or any part of the car that is not your windshield, takes your attention off the road. Limit the chances of running into the person in front of you and invest in a mount for your GPS/Phone.
- Be aware of street signs. Just because your GPS tells you to do something, that doesn’t mean you should ignore the street signs posted. Construction happens, streets change and so do street signs. Don’t end up like our friend on the train tracks, pay attention to the signs around you.
– The Wednesday before Thanksgiving is set to be one of the busiest traveling days for the holiday season. Give yourself extra time to sit in traffic, stack up on some good tunes, tasty snacks and distractions for the kids when they get restless.
– Car rentals and their prices increase by 27% the week before Thanksgiving, meaning you might go to your local Rent-A-Ride on Wednesday afternoon and they may be out of cars. Reserve your car early, or better yet car pool in your own car with your friends/family. You just did a check on your car with the steps above, that means your car is road worthy, and sharing would save you the rental price and reduce the cost of gas for everyone.
Just a few things to round out our list:
– Have a designated driver. You might be leaving that night, but you’ve been drinking Uncle Stan’s special punch or Aunt Margie’s famous Eggnog. Make sure you have a designated driver. It’s not just your safety you want to ensure, but also your passengers and the other drivers on the road.
– Bring an emergency kit. No matter how prepared you are, accidents do still arise. Keep these things in your car, just to be on the safe side:
- Extra fuses
- Jumper cables
- Energy bars
- Plastic trash bags or grocery bags
- Flashlight and batteries
- Cell phone and charger
- Matches/ lighter
- Pencil & paper
- Games in the car for kids
- Auto insurance, registration and repair shop information
– Keep a spare key on you. In your haste to enjoy those heavenly smells wafting out the window, you might lock your key in the trunk. Drop it down a sewer. The baby fed it a dog. I don’t know, but what you want to prepare for is the chance you may be without a key. Keep a spare one in your purse or wallet, just to be on the safe side.
– Have the Women Auto Know app! We had to throw this one in there. We all have some pretty awesome apps that do everything from book us travel plans to tell us what’s playing on the radio. The Women Auto Know app is your automotive guide when you’re on the road. It has a step-by-step guide for changing your tire or a fuse, topping off your oil and other things you can do to help you in an emergency situation. Also it gives you a place to store all of your emergency information, so if you need a phone number, VIN number, insurance info or the number for your regular shop, it’s all within your reach. If you’re interested in this app, we’re offering it as a perk in our IndieGoGo campaign! It’s also available on iTunes, but a donation works ten-fold in keeping Women Auto Know running.
With all that said, you are officially ready to hit the road! Are you traveling this holiday? Hosting? Share with us, we’d love to know how you prepare for your road trip!!