Memorial Day Weekend Travel Tips

Despite high fuel prices, the American Automobile Association (AAA) reports that an estimated 31.2 million Americans will take to the highways and byways this Memorial Day weekend.  If you’re planning to be among them, here are some tips designed to make your travels safer, and more enjoyable.

If at all possible, try to travel during off-peak hours, or even off-peak days. If your work and school schedules permit, you might even want to consider departing on Thursday or returning on Tuesday.  If you’re thinking you can get a jump on everyone by leaving town before rush hour on Friday, you’re probably in for an unpleasant surprise.  In most large metropolitan areas, “rush hour” on the Friday before Memorial Day typically starts at around 2:00.  A better option would be to hit the road later in the evening.  Not only will you avoid most of the other holiday travelers, but there tend to be fewer large commercial trucks on the highways at night.

If you plan to travel a long distance, be sure to swap drivers every two to three hours.  Sitting behind the wheel for longer periods can lead to fatigue for the driver and boredom for adult passengers.

Most people know where to find the lowest price on fuel in their local area. Thanks to smart phone apps like Gas Buddy, you can now comparison shop for fuel no matter how far from home your Memorial Day travels take you.  With the national average for a gallon of unleaded gasoline at $3.67, the savings can add up quickly.

Although you may be in a hurry to reach your holiday destination, it’s a good idea to make short stops from time to time.  Instead of random stops, consider researching your route for points of interest ahead of time.  Checking out an historical marker, an interesting antique shop, or the view from a scenic overlook will be much more enjoyable than simply stretching your legs in a gas station parking lot.

Invest some time and, if necessary, some money in a thorough pre-trip inspection of your vehicle. You should check your tires, cooling system, belts and windshield wipers prior to any long trip. Be sure to check the oil and other fluids while you’re at it.

A little preplanning and preventive maintenance can go a long way toward ensuring you have a safe and happy holiday weekend.

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