If you’re planning to hit the road this coming Thanksgiving weekend, make sure you’re thoroughly prepared for any trouble that may come your way. Just recently, there’s news of a couple of storms possibly headed this way, particularly along the East Coast. So if you’re in that area or driving there this Thanksgiving weekend, you may want to rethink your plans. At the very least, prepare for the potential storms.
If You’re Flying
Are you finally visiting relatives in another state or pushing through with that vacation in another country? Before you go, you need to refresh your knowledge on some travel safety tips.
Check for updates
If there’s indeed a storm coming, you should check the weather updates regularly. Get updates regarding your flight, as well. If a storm does come, your flight may be canceled. The sooner you know the status of your flight, the less you’ll be inconvenienced. Well, a canceled flight and ruined Thanksgiving weekend travel plans are inconvenient as they are but it’ll be worse if you’re caught in the middle of the storm.
Get to the airport early
If you’ve already booked a flight for this Thanksgiving weekend, you may want to go really early to avoid any inconvenience. About two to three hours before your flight should be okay. Consider how far you are from the airport and the possible traffic situation in determining the time you have to leave the house.
The volume of air travel passengers is still down compared to pre-pandemic days but that doesn’t mean there won’t be other people rushing to get to their own Thanksgiving weekend destination. With more vehicles on the road, the risk of an accident increases. That doubles when the road is wet. Thus, rushing and driving fast to catch your flight is a recipe for disaster.
The earlier you go, the more relaxed your drive will be. You’ll also be able to avoid the crowd, go through airport security, and check in early once the counter opens. After that, you can use the rest of your time before the flight to rest.
Every time you travel you should always pack light. Bulky suitcases are a hassle. They’re heavy and can be difficult to move around even if they have wheels. Accidents can also happen if you have to deal with such heavy baggage. Just pack the necessities and buy the rest of what you may need when you get to your destination.
Also, you can’t run and escape fast enough in case some sort of emergency occurs. You’ll be forced to leave your baggage to find safety. If you were only carrying a light backpack, you can still run away with your belongings in tack. Of course, your priority should always be yourself and your loved ones and not your belongings if your lives are threatened.
Triple check your documents before leaving
List down all the documents you’ll need for your Thanksgiving weekend trip. Aside from your passport and boarding pass, you may also need copies of birth certificates, marriage contracts, a certificate of legal guardianship if you’re traveling with a child. Print out copies of tickets for theme parks and other tourist spots that you purchased online so it’ll be easier to get them once you need them. Also, keep digital copies of all your documents.
Secure your passport, boarding pass, and other important documents in a waterproof pouch then keep them on your body at all times. Use a passport bag, crossbody bag, or sling bag. If you don’t have any of them, just make sure your document pouch is kept in a safe yet easily accessible place.
Learn the culture
If you’re vacationing in a foreign place, it’s important to do your research about the place. You should understand their culture to avoid making enemies. Some people may take it personally if you do something that goes against their customs. We’ve seen this happen in plenty of scary movies.
It’s also a good idea to fit in with the locals. Learn the language as well as you can. Copy how they dress. The more you look like a tourist, the more you attract swindlers and thieves. There will always be bad people wherever you go so be wary of them.
If You’re Driving
Going on a road trip this coming Thanksgiving weekend? Surely you have everything planned already, right? Right? Just in case, here are some travel safety tips to help you enjoy your trip more.
Have your vehicle checked
You’ll be doing a lot of driving so you want your car to be in the best shape possible. Take your car to the mechanic days before your Thanksgiving road trip so you have ample time to have it fixed in case they find some issues. Check the fluids, too. You may need to change the oil and replenish other fluids. If your tires have worn out treads, it’s best to replace them with new ones.
Fill ‘er up
Before you leave for your Thanksgiving weekend vacation, make sure you have a full tank. This should lessen your stops on your way to your destination. Still, you need to know where the fuel stations are in case you do need to gas up. Spend some time researching all the fuel stations along the area and calculate when and where you need to refuel.
Download a gas price app
Aside from telling you where you can refuel, these gas apps also let you know where the cheapest options are. Check out Waze, AAA Trip Planner, GasBuddy, Gas Guru, and other similar apps. Saving up on gas money allows you to have more to spend on other stuff, including emergency needs.
Set the rules
One of the Thanksgiving weekend travel safety tips that should help keep everyone safe is to lay down the law. List down a set of rules everyone should follow while you’re on vacation. These rules are of course meant to keep your family away from trouble and not to curtail their freedom.
While on the road, everyone should keep their seatbelts on. If you have a baby or toddler, make sure you use the car seat properly. All passengers under the age of 13 should ride in the backseat. Also, no seatbelt sharing. Each person gets to use their own.
Another important rule is to never distract the driver. You can have fun, of course, but make sure things don’t get too loud or rowdy. No fighting, verbal or otherwise.
Since we’re still dealing with a pandemic, you should make sure everyone practices COVID-19 precautions like keeping your distance from other people and disinfecting your hands regularly, especially after using a public restroom.
Rules don’t apply to the passengers alone. The driver needs to follow a set of rules, too. Perhaps the most important is to never get behind the wheel when intoxicated. This one is pretty obvious. The driver is not allowed to touch even a glass of beer. In case it can’t be helped, there should be someone else who can take the wheel while the other driver is recuperating.
The same rule applies if the driver is exhausted, sleepy, drowsy, or feeling unwell. They shouldn’t force themselves to drive and inform everyone if they need to take a break. Also, never text or call while driving. If you really have to use your phone, find a safe place to park and THEN make that call or answer that text. Otherwise, let your companions handle it.
As for bathroom breaks, everyone should keep it in until the next stop. It’s unsafe to stop by the side of the road to relieve yourself. To lessen your need to pee, do so before leaving your home. You should also lessen your fluid intake while on the road.
Know what to do in an emergency
Knowing what to do when you’re in an accident or road emergency is perhaps the most important of all the Thanksgiving weekend travel safety tips we can share here. It’s not enough to have the tools, gear, and supplies you need in every kind of emergency. It’s also not enough to keep your car in tiptop shape.
If a storm hits while you’re on the road, you must immediately find a safe place to park and wait it out. It’s not safe to keep driving in slippery conditions. Heavy rains will also make it difficult to see the road and other vehicles.
Once the rain comes, close your windows and turn your lights on. Don’t use your hazard lights. In most states, it’s illegal to drive in the rain with the hazard lights on.
Slow down and make sure there’s space between you and the vehicle in front of you. Look for a place where you can take shelter. Bridges are big no-nos. There’s a possibility they’d collapse from the strong rain and winds. This is doubly true with a tornado. Try to find a building to take shelter in.
Learn how to do at least the basic car repairs. Changing a flat tire is a basic skill that everyone should know how to do. If your vehicle breaks down, you should also know some quick fixes so you can at least drive it to the next town and get it looked at by a professional.
Prepare your car emergency kit
Of all the travel safety tips, this one is right on top of the list. Whenever you get in your car, you should make sure you have your car emergency kit. This is especially true if you’re going on a long drive such as your coming Thanksgiving weekend travel.
First off, you should have a complete set of tools for every possible car issue. Here are some of the basic ones:
- Hydraulic jack
- Tire ring
- Tire pressure gauge
- Air pump
- Jumper cables
- Portable jump starter
- Wrench set
- Torque Wrench
- Cordless impact wrench
- Screwdriver set
- Hex driver set
- Ratchet and socket set
- Breaker bar
- Punches and chisels
- Pick set
- Pry bar
- Oil filter wrench
- Fluid drain pan
- Extra car fluids
- Extra fuses
- Electric tape
- Early warning device
- Emergency LED lights
- Working gloves
- Hand cleaner
- Jerry can
Aside from the usual tools, you should have an emergency kit with survival gear that you’ll need to overcome any kind of trouble on the road. Here are some items you should have:
- Solar charger
- GPS device
- Glass breaker
- Seatbelt cutter
- LED flashlight
- Portable shovel
- Snow scraper and brush
- Kitty litter
- Snow tire chains
- Fire extinguisher
- First aid kit
- Hand and body warmers
- Thermal blankets
- Wool blankets
- Extra clothes
- Duct tape
- No-perishable and ready-to-eat foods
- Drinking water
If You’re Commuting
Some travelers prefer commuting since they don’t have to sit behind the wheel for hours. Driving for a long time can be tiring, especially if you get caught in a traffic jam. The problem with commuting is that you have to put your life in the hands of other people, particularly the driver. You also have to deal with other commuters. Unfortunately, not everyone on the same ride is looking forward to their Thanksgiving weekend. Some may be looking for their next victim.
Pack the necessities
A small travel bag should be enough. It’d be difficult to squeeze through the crowd if you’re carrying too much. Pack enough clothes for the trip. In case you need extra, you can buy them at your destination (or borrow from relatives). Don’t forget that one live of outerwear like a lightweight jacket that you may need when it gets too cold. You’ll also need a pouch of basic toiletries, essential electronics including phone and charger, and important documents in a protective pouch.
Don’t forget your everyday carry (EDC) kit
Since you’ll be out with strangers, you should bring your everyday carry (EDC) kit. Well, that’s why it’s called such. Your EDC kit includes some personal safety tools like a pocket knife (if it’s legal), pepper spray, stun gun (also, if it’s legal), tactical flashlight, multi-tool with a blade, personal alarm, and a kubotan.
Other basic survival tools you can fit in your EDC kit are a lighter, whistle, signal mirror, thermal blankets, a hand warmer, notebook and pen (make it a tactical pen), and a small first aid kit.
Pack some energy bars and bottled water, too. You need to stay nourished. If you have an existing medical condition, always have your medicines with you.
Be wary of your surroundings
Do you know those times when you have a gut feel? How many times were you right that something bad might happen? And what did you do to prevent that “bad thing” from happening or directly affecting you?
Everyone needs to develop their situational awareness. Never let your guard down, especially when you’re in a public space like a bus or train. Avoid dozing off and put away your phone and earphones. Always keep your head up and your eyes on your surroundings.
Keep your senses battle-ready. Aside from your sense of sight, you should also listen attentively to what’s happening around you. Your sense of smell, touch and even taste could provide you with hints if something’s not right. And trust your gut.
Don’t be an easy target
Those thugs looking for their next victim we were talking about earlier? They’re looking for signs that you’re weak. Not just weak physically but also if your guard’s down. These criminals like people that are too absorbed with their phones or music. They also like to target moms with small children since they would easily give up their belongings to protect their little ones. Also, people with valuables in plain sight attract the attention of thieves.
Choose the right seat
If possible, sit near the front of the bus. You want to be near the exit, driver, or operator. It’s easier to get off if there’s trouble inside. The driver or operator can also hear you more clearly if you’re near them.
Other Thanksgiving Weekend Travel Safety Tips
If you’re leaving your home for a Thanksgiving weekend travel to relatives or someplace else, make sure someone in the neighborhood knows. Tell your closest neighbor so they can watch over your home for a few days. They can also check up on you if you don’t get back on the day you said you’ll be home.
Travel with someone
Whether you’re flying, driving, or commuting, you should always have a travel buddy. Yes, it’s exciting to travel solo but the risks are potentially higher, especially for the ladies.
Before the pandemic, an estimated 32 million women travel alone each year. Unfortunately, some of these dream adventures ended up as nightmares. There are many cases of solo female travelers being attacked, raped, or murdered while on their trip. Some that come to mind include Sarai Sierra, who was killed by a homeless man while vacationing solo in Turkey back in 2013, and Grace Millane, who was murdered in 2018 by a convicted rapist while backpacking in New Zealand.
Don’t get us wrong. Women have every right to do as they please. Plus, many can handle themselves. They deserve to travel alone without worrying about their safety. The rapists and murderers are to blame for these horrific crimes.
What we’re getting at here is that you should be doubly careful when you’re traveling. One way is to always have a travel buddy so you can look out for each other. If you really want to experience solo traveling then you should really take safety precautions even more seriously than you already do.
Use a doorstop
If you’re staying in a hotel or inn for the weekend, make sure to lock the door to your room. That’s not enough, though. These establishments have duplicate keys so anyone who gets their hands on them can enter your room. Use a doorstop to keep intruders out. Skip the cleaners if the place offers that service.
Don’t forget about the pandemic
Despite the huge steps to go back to normal, the coronavirus pandemic is still a thing. As such, you should still be careful when you go outside, particularly during your Thanksgiving weekend trip. Continue to practice social distancing and sanitize your hands regularly. Avoid touching your face even after cleaning your hands. Also, you should still wear a face mask. It’s not only to help keep the virus from further spreading but also to keep safe from air pollutants and other diseases.
These Thanksgiving weekend travel safety tips are meant to keep you safe, obviously. They also allow you to enjoy your weekend more. If you prepare everything you need, you’ll have fewer things to worry about. Being alive and staying out of trouble are just two of the things you should be thankful for. It’s best to keep things that way. Discover more safety tips over at Gentleman Pirate Club.