Safe Travel During Holidays
Travel seems to come with the territory of holiday celebrations. Part of what makes holidays special is being with our loved ones. Whether we are heading out for a patriotic fireworks display, a long weekend at the lake, or Christmas at grandma's house, travel is often unavoidable during the most festive times of the year. For years, the government has been collecting data on how we travel, when we leave, and how long we stay away. In fact, there is an entire governemnt bureau devoted to collecting transportation statistics. While this might seem excessive, it does offer some useful data for holiday vacation planning. By studying holiday travel statistics, you can figure out when to leave and how to travel to avoid the holidays crowds.
American Holiday Travel
Ever since the 1950's, when the personal automobile became an everyday item for many American families, travel has been a part of the American holiday tradition. Whether we want to spend Christmas back home with the folks or the 4th of July at the family beach house, Americans celebrate on the move, and it shows. Anyone who has ever tried to fly the day before Thanksgiving or drive to the beach for Labor day knows that long delays and big crowds are part of the holiday travel bargain.
In 2003, the Bureau of Transportation Statistics released a report detailing American holiday travel. Not surprisingly, the winter holidays see the greatest number of travelers with Thanksgiving leading at 54% increase in travel. Christmas and New Years both show an increase of over 20% in travel, and summer holidays like the 4th of July and Labor Day show increases around 12-15%. Most holiday travel, about 91%, is done by car. This means that the roads are especially crowded and dangerous during these times. Only 2-3% of holiday travelers go by train or bus, so these public transportation options are a good choice if you want to avoid holiday crowds and make a safer trip. Also, most people travel on the day of the holiday, so if you can leave a day or two early, you'll save yourself some headaches. Staying two or more nights will help you avoid a lot of the crowds as well. Obviously, holidays that occur over a weekend will have dramatically increased traffic rates on Friday night and Saturday. Try and leave Thursday night or Friday morning and return on Monday.
Top 10 Safe Holiday Travel Tips
If you, like many Americans, plan to make traveling a part of your holiday celebrations this year, keep these tips in mind:
- Never drive after drinking.
- Use sun protection no matter the season. People generally spend more time outdoors while traveling.
- Stay hydrated and eat a lot of fiber while traveling to avoid digestion problems.
- Take a break to stretch your legs every two hours whether you are driving or flying.
- Keep a simple first aid kit on hand stocked with medicines, bandages, antiseptic ointment, tweezers, scissors and an ace wrap.
- Teach kids their parents' full names, address, phone number and what to do in case they got lost.
- Avoid showing large amounts of cash, and leave expensive jewelry and other luxury items at home.
- Make sure the neighbors know you'll be gone and ask them to keep an eye on things for you.
- If you are traveling abroad, make a detailed color copy of each person's passport and keep them safe in a separate location.
- Use common sense; if you wouldn't do something at home, don't do it on vacation.
With a little planning and patience, a safe, fun holiday trip will create the happy memories that will last a lifetime.