Thanksgiving Weekend Road Trip: Here's What You Need To Know

Thanksgiving Weekend Road Trip - Car Care ChecklistIf the leaves are beginning to turn and the air is chilled, then it may be time to plan where to go for Thanksgiving. Whether it’s a trip to Grandma’s house or experiencing new places together as a family, you’re sure to have memories that will stay with you forever. In much of the American Southwest, the November temperatures are often still mild and the natural beauty is breathtaking. Proper planning can help to ensure your weekend goes smoothly, keeping downtime to a minimum.

Check and Prep the Car

Nothing can ruin a Thanksgiving road trip like an overheating engine or dead battery. Scheduling a vehicle maintenance check-up, the week before you leave, may help minor inconveniences from becoming major issues while you are away.

  • Check the wiper blades. If the wipers are ragged, have them replaced to ensure any late-season storms don’t hinder the view through your windshield.

  • Check fluid levels, from the windshield washer and brake fluid to engine coolant. If any of these are low, have them refilled. This is a simple precaution that can prevent hassles while you are away from home.

  • Have the oil changed and the engine checked to help your vehicle maintain peak performance.

  • Clean the battery terminals to remove any particles or debris that may have collected under the caps.

  • Inspect the tire treads for ragged tread edges, flat spots or bulges. Replace the tires in pairs to ensure even wear and to maintain fuel economy.

  • Make sure the spare tire is in good condition and locked into place. Flat tires happen to even the most careful drivers. Ensuring the spare is ready for use and the tools are loaded may prevent you and your family from being stranded on the side of the road.

Be Prepared

Planning the route before leaving home can ensure you hit popular sightseeing attractions as well as some unusual stops off the beaten path. Put a freshly supplied first aid kit in the car in case of a medical situation or unforeseen circumstances, from bandages to blankets and a flashlight. Be ready with games to play with the kids for those stretches of highway without many points of interest. From playing I Spy to singing, time in the car can be fun. Remember to bring plenty of snacks and drinks, especially water, to help keep boredom and the rumbling tummies at bay.

Check the Weather

The American Southwest is filled with abundant sunshine more than 300 days a year. However, there is always the chance of a stray shower or wind storm. These anomalies can pass quickly, but may prove problematic if you are caught off guard.  Checking the forecast before you leave as well as during the trip can help you prepare for weather events. Temperatures often fluctuate up to 50 degrees in a 24-hour period, which can make picking outfits difficult. Pack smart by planning to dress in layers and bring jackets that are appropriate for wet and windy weather.

Plan for Patience

Even the most sweet-tempered children can get tired of sitting and navigators can become weary of checking maps and manning the radio. When planning the route, whether it follows a historic route’s winding path or the straight ribbon of highway, consider how long the ride between stops will be. If possible, arrange it to have several stops scheduled each day. Exploring a ghost town, grabbing lunch at a 50s-style diner or checking out a local museum can be a great way to stretch and work off some pent-up energy.

Arrange for Flexibility

Millions of people hit the road for the Thanksgiving weekend, so there will be times when traffic volumes are high. Travel clubs, newspapers and radio stations may have reports available that list the busiest times to be on the road. If there is some flexibility built into your schedule, you can arrange to be hiking in one of the state parks or exploring a historic site while the heaviest traffic passes.

Family road trips can create memories that last a lifetime. The knowledgeable technicians at Sun Auto Service can make sure your car is prepped and ready for the journey, giving you time to concentrate on planning an adventure to remember.