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Top tips for travelers for the Thanksgiving holidays

By Rita R. Robison

Across the state and country, more consumers will enjoy their Thanksgiving feast at a table away from home this year, according to AAA's annual travel forecast.

Car Heavy SnowNationwide, 42.5 million Americans will travel over the holiday, a 4 percent increase compared to 2010.

Sixty percent of travelers state that the economy has either no impact on their travel plans or that things have improved for them since last year. The remaining 40 percent of travelers state that they will scale back as a result of current economic conditions.

For many, the Thanksgiving holiday is about reconnecting with friends and family. The top five travel activities include: dining, 72 percent; visiting friends/relatives, 67 percent; shopping, 49 percent; touring/sightseeing, 43 percent; and/or going to the beach/waterfront, 27 percent.

If you’ll be traveling in your car, be sure to be prepared for winter by using these tips:

Basic winter safety gear

  • Make sure you have an ice scraper, a snowbrush, a small shovel, tow chain, jumper cables, and chains.

Breakdown kit

  • Assemble blankets, gloves, boots, warm clothes, a flashlight, food, water, a first aid kit, extra batteries, road flares, and emergency cash.

Information about conditions

  • Watch weather forecasts.
  • Call your state transportation department’s information line.
  • Check the Internet for winter information about conditions on roads before you leave.

Safe driving

  • Drive for conditions – use slower speeds, slower acceleration, slower steering, and slower braking in winter conditions.
  • Use your headlights at all times
  • Remember, four- and all-wheel drive vehicles won’t stop or steer better in icy conditions.
  • Don’t use cruise control or overdrive on slick or snow-covered surfaces.
  • Leave extra room between your vehicle and the vehicles in front of you. Look farther ahead in traffic. And remember, big trucks take longer to stop.
  • Slow down when approaching intersections, off-ramps, bridges, or shady spots.
  • Slow down and be extra cautious near the chain-up and removal areas.
  • Stay behind well snowplows until it’s safe to pass.

Airplane Flying IMG_9215

If you’re traveling by air, follow these tips to make sure you get to the airport and your plane on time: 

  • Call your airline's customer service number or visit the airline’s website to confirm your flight prior to coming to the airport, especially if severe weather is predicted.
  • Print your boarding pass before coming to the airport. Some airlines also offer electronic boarding passes.
  • Place identification tags on both the inside and outside of your luggage.
  • Place a label on your laptop computer and another on the carrying case.
  • Have a viable plan for where you’re going to park at the airport or which shuttle service you’ll hire.
  • Put spare lithium batteries for cameras, laptops, and cell phones in carry-on luggage and make sure they are in the original packaging or separate protective cases or have tape across the battery’s contacts to isolate the terminals and prevent short-circuiting.

After you're on the plane, Luis Navarro, M.D., director of the Vein Treatment Center in New York, offers these tips on how to avoid poor blood flow from sitting too long on an airplane or train:

  • Avoid prolonged periods of sitting and standing. Walk up and down the plane/train every one to two hours, when possible, for five to10 minutes.
  • Get exercise. Do ankle and lower leg exercises, such as ankle rotations.
  • Wear graduated compression stocking, preferably knee highs with open toe, which are 15-25mm/hg or 20-30mm/hg.
  • Stay hydrated. Double your water intake when traveling. Buy bottled water before you board the plane and start drinking before takeoff. It will take a while before flight attendants will bring water to you.
  • Avoid alcohol. Alcohol dehydrates your body so avoiding alcohol a few days before taking a long trip would be a good idea.

Best wishes for a great Thanksgiving trip. And remember, don’t drink and drive.

Copyright 2011, Rita R. Robison, Consumer Specialist

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