5 Essential Tips for Your Holiday Road Trip

NEW YORK (MainStreet) -- Thanksgiving week is, along with July 4, the busiest travel week of the year. But don’t go for any long rides until you’re sure your vehicle is shipshape and ready for the open (and sometimes snowy) road. These tips can make you sure to get home for the holidays – and back again – as safely as possible.

Rest assured, when you do hit America’s roads and highways this week, you won’t be alone – not by a long shot. According to the American Automobile Association, about 38.2 million Americans will hit the road during the Thanksgiving holiday week, an upward spike from the 36.8 million people recorded in 2010.

A big part of that increase in traffic is – you guessed it – the economy. AAA says the U.S. economy has been in such disrepair during the past few years that many Americans have delayed any holiday travel because of the strain on their budgets. Apparently, some of that anxiety is going away this year.

"Driving AAA's projected increase in the number of Thanksgiving travelers is pent-up demand from Americans who may have foregone holiday travel the last three years," explains Bill Sutherland, vice president of AAA Travel Services, in a statement. "As consumers weigh the fear of economic uncertainty and the desire to create lasting family memories this holiday, more Americans are expected to choose family and friends over frugality." 

But when you do get behind the wheel this week, even a few minutes checking your vehicle’s condition can be a big insurance policy against a breakdown or even a car accident – especially if you’re traveling in cold-weather states where snow and ice could be an issue.

“There are a number of simple, preventative maintenance items that any consumer can perform in their driveway,” says Bryan Gregory, director of consumer education for Advance Auto Parts. “The best time to prepare your vehicle for holiday travel and winter is now, before a trip begins and before severe winter weather arrives.”