With the holiday season officially kicking in, here are a few travel tips as you hit the highways over the next few days. According to AAA, 39.1 million Americans will take to the road, taking a trip 50 miles or more away from home this Thanksgiving. To ensure that you get to your destination safe and sound, we’ve put together a few travel tips:
- Get plenty of rest before hitting the road.
- Carry two sets of keys (or key fobs, depending on the year of your vehicle). What happens if you misplace a set?
- Map out your trip ahead of time. In case you’re without a built-in navigation system, a number of phone apps are available helping you do everything from route your trip to find the lowest gas prices. Visit such sites as AAA.com to download an app or use Mapquest, which offers a voice-activated turn-by-turn directions.
- Make sure you inspect your vehicle before hitting the road. Are the tires properly inflated? Have you changed the oil? Is your windshield washer fluid dispenser filled? When was the last time you inspected your windshield wiper blades? Also, check to make sure the spare, if your car is still equipped with one, is properly inflated. Oh yes, what about the jack or carrying alone a tire inflator kit, too.
- Walk around your vehicle to make sure all of your lights (and turn signals) are in working order, too.
- And do you have the necessary car essentials: a cell (smart) phone, cell (smart) phone charger, your auto insurance card, car registration papers, an iPod (or a few of your favorite CDs if you’re still ‘old school’)?
- Carry along a few healthy snacks and water just in case you’re stuck-in traffic or in a sudden roadside emergency.
- Consider signing up for an emergency roadside assistance plan. AAA, AARP or GM Motor Club to purchase a plan. They cover everything from towing to repairing a flat. Most plans range from $36 to $100 a year. It’s worth the investment. In case you don’t want to invest in a plan, keep a pair of jumper cables or gloves handy.
- IMPORTANT. Avoid texting or surfing on your phone, if you are driving. It’s not worth risking your life. And in many areas of the country, it’s illegal to text and drive. Furthermore, you could be hit with a fine, if you are caught.
- Renting a Vehicle? Access the website for the rental car agency for the best rate. Then, proceed to contact the local rental car agency to negotiate the best rate. And try to reserve an economy vehicle in advance at a lower rate – since this almost always ensures a free upgrade due to the fact there is a shortage of econ rides in inventory. Furthermore, avoid unnecessary fees such as rental insurance, pre-paid gas, a trip planner and airport pick-up. See if your insurance policy covers for car rentals or see if your agent will consider added it on a prorated basis, while renting a vehicle. The prorated cost will still be significantly less than paying the rental agency fee.
Jeff Fortson is an auto analyst and editor of a car-buying website for women and minorities. To learn more about his popular car-buying workshop and/or to price a new-vehicle, drive on over to JeffCars.com. Follow him at Twitter/JeffCars.