It’s estimated that 42 million people will be traveling by car this Thanksgiving, and while the smartest thing to do for sanity’s sake would be to have dinner at your house, unfortunately you’re not that lucky. Here are some helpful hints to get you through the busiest travel day of the year without popping a blood vessel before the first course. If you can, use them all to your advantage, or if you’re one to take a risk, buckle up and join the masses because you’re in for hell on wheels.
Even if others aren’t arriving until 3pm, get there earlier. You were invited because someone likes or cares about you, so take advantage of the kindness and show up a few hours earlier and beat the traffic. Take the time you think you’ll arrive, subtract three hours and plan around that. What’s worse, sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic or listening to Aunt Judith’s stories on how she rescued a tomcat from the alley many, many times?
However, don’t think arriving an entire day or two earlier will work out better for you. According to 2014 travel data from Waze, Tuesday and Wednesday are the worst travel days for getting to your spot at the table.
This may seem like an obvious solution, but Californians defy conventional wisdom and most travel solo wherever they go: Thanksgiving is no exception. While California does have carpool lanes, it’s not a perfect system with limited roadways, congested lanes and some motorists paying extra with FastTrak to ride as a single occupant; getting around the law in the first place. Most lanes require two or more people and must have a transponder, but the toll is free for carpoolers so make sure you stuff more people in the car to save on time, money and frustration.
Waze is a great app that will usually get you to your destination quicker than the alternative GPS methods. Come Thanksgiving, however, everyone is going to be using whatever it takes to outsmart the car next to them, and that includes Waze. Instead, come up with an alternative route ahead of time and bring a road atlas. Not only will paperback be a lifeline of other road choices in case of cellphone outage due to overloaded servers (we’ve seen stranger things), it will also take out some of the monotony of driving in a car for hours with things to see, points of interest and fire starter should the traffic jam become carpocalypse.
You’re not going to want to stop for gas once you start out on your journey, so make sure your vehicle is locked and loaded in order to prep for the drive. Remember, about 42 million people will be driving this Thanksgiving, meaning you won’t be the only one who forgot booze, your secret ingredient, or topping off the tank. Use the days before to make a list of what’s needed so you can stock up beforehand. You can always cut out more food, but you won’t be able to cut out the stress if you’re battling people on the road and in the stores.
Currently the full-time Editorial Director and Content Manager for RxSpeed.com, & contributing writer for Scout.com. He also loves photography, videography, his Shiba Inu Mia and driving sports cars.