Ready to take off from the day-to-day work schedule but not quite able to make it all the way home for the holidays? If you’re not carving up a turkey this year and ready to cover ground to get out of town with a quick road trip, here are some holiday driving ideas and tips for drivers who are taking off this thanksgiving break. 

First, inspect your car

Nothing is more important than taking care of your vehicle first before taking off on a holiday weekend. More drivers hit the roads during Thanksgiving and as a driver, you want to be prepared for potential traffic jams and the case of a vehicle malfunction. Before you drive off for the holiday weekend, bring your car into your local mechanic for an all-around inspection. If you’re on a budget, inspecting your vehicle is easy if you know what to look out for.

The essential car components you should inspect are listed below. Most of these car tips are visual inspections as well as tests you can try out near your house on a quiet road. It’s essential, however, to know of your car’s health and capabilities before taking off on a road trip. 

  • Tires: Visually inspect the tread of your tires and search for any nails or leaks. Your tire pressure should be filled to the recommended PSI which is found in the owner’s manual, and when your tires are pumped, you gain better fuel usage and more miles on the highway. 

Having proper tread thickness will keep you from sliding or skidding if the roads are wet. You can conduct the penny test by using a copper penny inside your tread. If Abe Lincoln’s head is covered, you’re good, but if you can see his face beneath the thickness of the tread, you may need a tire change. It’s also wise to rotate your tires to maximize the longevity of tread on each one.

  • Brakes: You must have substantial stopping power when traveling, especially on unfamiliar roads. Bad brakes or worn-down brake pads can lead to longer stoppage times which can cause an accident or make you lose control on the highway. Check your brakes while driving on a quiet road or in a parking lot. 

If you feel or hear grinding when applying the brakes, you should have them replaced before your trip. If your brake pedal doesn’t react in time once applying quick or slow pressure to the push of your foot, have a professional mechanic take a look at your brake lines and rotors.

  • Oil: Always check your engine’s oil level before embarking on a road trip. All vehicles vary on oil velocity and amount, so check your owner’s manual if you are changing it on your own. Other fluids one should check or have a mechanic look over is transmission fluid and steering fluid. Two other major components that make for smooth operation.

 

  • Windshield Wipers/ Fluid: Windshield visibility is one of the most important aspects of safe driving. Drivers are better off when their windshield is clear during a snow or rainstorm and despite having RainX windshield solution spread across your glass, it’s even more important to have functional windshield wipers. Check the squeegee side of your wipers to make sure they aren’t gunky or chipped, and if they appear old and brittle, pull in to the nearest mechanic or auto goods store and switch them out before your travels.

Quick trip ideas for getting out of town

If you’re searching for a driving hobby because you’ve heard of how beautiful the countryside is near your city or suburb, there are an abundance of activities that you’ll love to try. For the holiday nomads who are prepared to take on something new this season, below are a handful of adventurous hobbies to consider while on Thanksgiving break.

  • Camping: If you’ve never spent time car camping or hiking to a secluded campsite, there are closer campsites to your home than you may think. Today, it’s so easy to find a state park or KOA campground where couples or solo travelers can camp out while experiencing fun hiking trails or rivers. If you’re a first time camper, start small with the essentials such as a cooking stove, tent, sleeping bag, and camping chair. 

 

  • Fishing/Kayaking: Have you always wanted to strap a paddleboard or kayak to the roof of your car to explore the shoreline or massive lakes near your home town? Kayak fishing and paddle boarding are blowing up in popularity. Nowadays, you can find affordable kayaks online as well as a plethora of fishing gear at your nearest sporting goods store. Whether you’re bass fishing in lakes or fishing for trout and drum along the shorelines, taking a road trip to a popular fishing pier, or river is cheap and fun, especially if you’re bringing a cooler full of fish fillets home.

 

  • Shopping: It’s in our nature to hunt, and shopping is a pastime most humans enjoy during the holidays. From hitting the large outlet malls to the massive home goods and furniture stores, if you’re in search of refreshing your living space or wardrobe, running up or down the highway to where the mega stores are can be an activity the whole family can enjoy. 

Most huge outlet malls have nearby and affordable hotels and making a weekend shopping trip is a blast if you’re looking to return home with holiday savings and deals. Check your nearby outlet malls to see which ones have the stores you love most, then schedule your Black Friday locations to get the best prices.

  • Stargazing: Interested in breaking free from your earthly responsibilities? If you’re interested in camping, more than likely you will see your share of stars. However, if you want to see the stars outside of the suburban and city lights, driving your car to a secluded area is not only easy, it’s peaceful. Nothing beats a long night drive, peace and quiet, and the mystery of the universe from the top of your car. 

Whether you’re stargazing from your lawn chair or in the bed of your truck with a blow-up mattress, an affordable and reachable solitude can be found right off the side of the road. If you are seeking a dark place to stargaze and watch shooting stars, be sure that you will have phone reception and always choose a safe and well-known area that is away from moving traffic. 

  • Photography: Car enthusiasts or average drivers who have considered dipping into photography as a hobby, car photography as well as travel photography can boost your Instagram account and track your life experiences. Whether you’re looking to buy a digital camera, DSLR, GoPro, or using the newest iPhone, snapping action photos or outdoor pictures of family during the holidays always makes for unforgettable memories. 

Double Check The Functionality of Your Headlights and Taillights

No matter where you live, as fall and winter arrive, so does unpredictable weather and driving conditions. Heavy rains, early snowstorms, and thick fog can limit your driving and vehicle visibility. Before you take on the hours of travel time, ensure your headlights, blinkers, and tail lights are in fully functional order. 

If you’re considering aftermarket fog lights or fog light bulbs, finding the fit to your vehicle’s year, make, and model is a breeze and they will help keep your truck, sedan, or SUV visible during white-out conditions.

Patrick Kirk
I am a full-time copywriter from Naples, FL and living in Austin, TX. I have written for the automotive industry for three years, and enjoy other hobbies such as camping and mountain biking. I received my Bachelors from Florida Gulf Coast University, and served in the U.S Coast Guard.

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