Traveling Smart for Thanksgiving: 5 Driving Tips

Posted on by Isabelle Brown

Why did the turkey cross the road, you ask?

To spend Thanksgiving with its family while avoiding the holiday traffic! 


We’re here to help you sort out your Thanksgiving plans if you have to drive to your holiday celebration this year. Don’t let travel stress take away from the joy that this season brings. We are thankful to have some helpful tips to share with you. 


Here are 5 Thanksgiving travel tips to make sure the most stressful part of getting where you need to go is transporting your homemade pumpkin pie: 


Plan Ahead: Timing is Key! 

Have you ever left the house even five minutes later than usual to find yourself stuck in way more traffic than usual? This type of inconvenience can really add to the stress of a holiday. Sometimes it feels like we are fighting against the clock to be on time for Thanksgiving gatherings. Running late can also lead to rushed driving tactics like speeding up to yellow lights instead of slowing down, rolling through stop signs, and other unsafe maneuvers.  

Preparing for Thanksgiving travels in the days or weeks leading up to the holiday can help you stay ahead of the game. Try picking out outfits for the kids the day before, prepping the food you plan to bring, and starting to gather what you need beforehand.  


Try Transit 

It isn’t always realistic to take public transportation to a family member’s house for the holidays. If you are fortunate enough to have this resource available, see if you can plan to take the train or bus! Of all the tips we can provide, it is truly the best way to avoid the stress of driving, gas money, and holiday traffic. Taking transit for your holiday weekend will transport you into the starring role of your own Hallmark movie. Make that perfect fall playlist, wear your coziest sweater, and enjoy the ride.  


Avoid Peak Traffic Times 

Around the holidays, it can feel like every time of day is peak-traffic time. In case you’re wondering what the absolute busiest time on the road is near Thanksgiving, it’s at 3-4 PM the Wednesday before. (Note to self: I will not be moving off my couch the day before Thanksgiving.)  

Unfortunately, the same data shows that 6 AM on Thanksgiving Day is the optimal time for driving. It’s unfortunate because, well—Who wants to hit the road at 6 AM on a tiring holiday? Another peak time to steer clear of is 5-6 PM on the day before at the grocery store.  

We know you didn’t say thank you, but... You’re welcome! 


Have Your Guard Up 

Take it from me—The holidays can be a dangerous time to drive. Last year on the day after Thanksgiving my car was totaled in a pharmacy parking lot. Although I was fortunate enough to have a public transit system to depend on for my daily commute, anything unexpected happening to your personal vehicle is extremely costly, and obviously stressful.  

Even places where everyone is supposed to drive slowly, like a parking lot, can be dangerous. Other drivers being in a rush or stressed out can affect judgment and reaction time, and this can lead to accidents. When you are out running your unavoidable Thanksgiving errands, always be very aware of your surroundings. Something I do since my car was totaled is parking in less busy areas of parking lots. Sacrificing a short walk into the store for a longer one is worth it! 


Brush Up on your Safety Tips 

With each new season comes a different set of safety challenges. By Thanksgiving, fall is becoming more wintry every day. Revisiting what we know about driving safely in cold weather is crucial to having a smooth holiday season. 

Earlier sunsets, icy conditions, and being unprepared for unexpected moments are just a few challenges late November can throw our way. Driving safely during low-visibility hours like sunset is very important, and you can plan for this by having a good pair of sunglasses ready to go in your vehicle. Making sure your tires are checked regularly is on every New Englander’s driving check list when the seasons change, especially if your vehicle doesn’t have the best performance in snow.  

Lastly, always have some necessities stocked in your trunk. Make a list and get the following items in a bag in your vehicle: snacks, jumper cables, a snow shovel, a flashlight, a cell phone charger, and winter coats.  


Have a Safe and Happy Thanksgiving! 

A few of our golden rules for driving during the holidays go like this: 

  • If it’s between getting there on time and getting there safely, let’s choose safety every time. 
  • Tailgating, texting, speeding, and weaving are no-go's. 
  • Every journey is better with a friend. Share the ride this Thanksgiving!