Memorial Day is almost upon us. The holiday marks the beginning of the summer season, and as such, it’s also the beginning of summer vacation for many.
Paired with the multitudes of travelers looking to get out of town, travelling during Memorial Day weekend could prove to be fun and enjoyable or a hassle and a headache.
AAA and Informational Handling Services (IHS) are predicting that 36.1 million will travel this Memorial Day weekend; a 1.5 percent increase from 2013. According to AAA and IHS, about 88 percent of those 36.1 million travelers will be drivers hitting the road, so it’s safe to say that you may be sharing the road with others this weekend.
Travel may be difficult, especially if you have the same travel plans as everyone else, but below are some tips to make your Memorial Day as stress-free as possible.
The National Safety Council estimates that there will be 382 traffic fatalities during Memorial Day weekend this year, and another 40,900 medically consulted injuries, making the holiday weekend one of the most dangerous.
The NSC recommends that drivers wear seatbelts for every single trip, refrain from cell phone use while driving, avoid drinking alcohol and driving, and exercise caution while driving anywhere.
“Memorial Day marks the beginning of summer celebrations, but sadly, we know this long holiday weekend will end with too many preventable deaths and injuries,” says Deborah Hersman, NSC president and CEO on the NSC official site.
Get The Car Ready
How many suitcases can fit in that mid-sized hybrid of yours?
Regardless of make or model, it’s a smart idea to make sure your car is ready for the road, and the best place to start is your tires. Ensure that you don’t need new tires or a tire rotation. Get a tire inspection before heading out for a long trip on the road.
Also, check that other functions that will be used heavily while on your trip are working properly. Drive a few blocks paying attention to even the minutest details of your car.
Home Away From Home
The safety of your home is another important aspect of the weekend. Keeping your home safe while you’re away should be a major concern if it isn’t already.
Never use social media to broadcast when you’re leaving, where you’re going on, or when you’re coming back. Doing so gives criminals the exact type of information they need.
Criminals pose the largest threat to your home while you’re away, which means setting up security systems, such as a house alarm, should be a priority. If you have a house alarm, don’t forget to set it. If you not, ensure that every single entrance, including windows, is locked.
It’s also smart to double-check that electrical appliances such as irons, ovens, and heaters are turned off to prevent fires. Actually, it makes more sense to unplug all of electrical items. Why not save a few dollars on your electric bill while you’re away?
One last helpful hint to keep your home safe: have a friend house-sit, or at least have someone you know stop by to check on your residence.
Like most holidays and vacations, planning ahead is the fundamental prerequisite to enjoying a trip with as little stress as possible. If you haven’t put a plan together, it’s not too late.
What route will you be taking? Will you be using the hidden shortcut or dealing with heavily congested interstates and highways? How much luggage can you fit in that mid-sized hybrid? Where are you making pit stops?
Much of the planning needed for travel has been made easier in the 21st century as technology has made things much easier. Use a helpful app such as TripAdvisor or the ever-faithful Google Maps to get up-to-date traffic updates, plan how long your trip will be, and the best route to take.
Last but not least: check the weather. Many travelers neglect to check the weather along their route and at their final destination. Don’t get stuck out in the rain, literally.
The Early Bird Gets the Worm
The earlier you travel the better, as traffic tends to be worst around midday and late afternoon. According to The Washington Post, the best time to leave for your holiday vacation is before 9 a.m. on Friday, otherwise, you may have to be prepared to spend almost three hours in traffic.
Leaving early goes for flights as well. Be at the airport early to ensure you smoothly cruise through ticketing, security checkpoints, and boarding. Hang-ups can happen at any point in the chaos that is an airport during the holidays, so circumvent any delays by giving yourself enough time to navigate it.
Know Traffic Patterns
During Memorial Day, thousands (if not millions) will be heading to the same destination as you, so you can definitely expect some traffic delays. However, knowing where you’ll run into traffic can benefit you, so save yourself the road rage and check on traffic conditions along your route using an app, social media, or friends and family that live in the area.