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Tips for Thanksgiving car trips

By Tara Baukus Mello · Bankrate.com
Wednesday, November 23, 2011
Posted: 9 am ET

If you're getting ready to load up the car and take a road trip this Thanksgiving holiday, you're going to have a lot of company, as AAA is expecting a substantial increase in Thanksgiving travelers this year. Try these tips to save time, stress and money to ensure your Thanksgiving holiday is a pleasant one.

Save time by checking the traffic reports and weather forecasts before you leave. Consider shifting your departure time earlier or later to reduce the amount of traffic you'll experience or to avoid weather-related delays. Not only does sitting in traffic lead to reduced fuel economy and further expense in gas, but it can also mean stressed-out drivers and whiny, wiggly kids.

Save stress by making sure all of your car's passengers have sufficient activities to keep them occupied throughout the drive and then some. Passengers who are happy naturally reduce a driver's stress level. In addition, drivers can keep themselves entertained by loading an MP3 player with their favorite music or audio books. Packing a small cooler with healthy snacks also helps, though plan to stop every two hours if only for everyone to stretch their legs for a few minutes.

Save money on your car travel costs by making sure your car can get its optimum fuel economy and filling up in less expensive areas, which may mean waiting to fill up outside of your hometown. While on the road, use a smartphone application to find gas prices as well as a map of the stations. Check out MSN Autos' interactive gas center, the gas price feature from MapQuest, Bing Maps' gas prices app, the app from GasBuddy.com and the Where app. Before you head out, check your car tire pressure, since driving on underinflated tires can decrease your fuel economy by as much as 10 percent, according to AAA. Add air if needed to bring your car up to the recommend pounds per square inch, or PSI, listed in your car owner's manual or on the driver's side door jamb.

Tara Baukus Mello writes the cars blog as well as the weekly Driving for Dollars column, providing both practical financial advice for consumers as well as insight into the latest developments in the automotive world. Follow her on Facebook here or on Twitter @SheDrives.

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