Hitting the road for the holidays? Unfortunately, you're not the only one -- about 42 million of your closest friends are also expected to drive this Thanksgiving, according to AAA.
So how to stay sane? Here are our seven quick tips to make the most of your trip.
1. Obviously, you want to drive during off-peak hours. But when are those, exactly?
- Your best bets on the Interstate 95 corridor are Tuesday and Wednesday before 6 a.m. and after 11 p.m., and Thursday through Sunday before 9 a.m. and after 9 p.m., according to the Maryland Transportation Authority (MDTA).
- In Virginia, try to travel before 11 a.m. Wednesday, and before 10 a.m. Sunday or after 10 p.m. Sunday, according to the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT).
2a. Still don't have an E-ZPass? Get one. You'll save a signicant amount of time. Although it's too late to order one online if you want it before traveling for Thanksgiving, the transponders are available at a few retail locations. Visit EZPassMD.com or EZPassVA.com to see where you can get one in person.
2b. Do have an E-ZPass? Make sure your info's up to date. Log into your state's E-Zpass site to verify that your credit card, license plate number and contact information are all current.
3. Don't have roadside assistance? Make a quick call to sign up for it through your car insurance company, or go online to register with AAA. You'll have help if the unexpected happens, both to keep you safe and to save yourself a lot of time and frustration.
4. Make sure your car is ready for the trip. Consumer Reports has a quick checklist you can run through, including making sure all your lights are working, your washer fluid's filled and your tire pressure is good. See the full list here.
5. Don't text and drive... or look at directions and drive... or flip through your playlist and drive. In Maryland, it's illegal to text or otherwise handheld cellphones while driving. Texting while driving is illegal in Virginia. Designate your front-seat passenger to be in change of your phone, the playlist and the directions.
6. Take a safety break. You might be tempted to make as few stops as possible, but don't drive for so long that you become a danger to yourself or others. A break at a rest stop will refresh you or let you exchange driving duties with a travel buddy.
7. But plan ahead to avoid unnecessary stops. If you have small kids, you're probably used to packing water and snacks. But even if your car's adults-only this Thanksgiving, it's always a good idea to bring along the basics. You'll also save money and probably end up with healthier options than what you'd get at a rest stop.