InsuranceQuotes.com poll: Many Americans staying off the road this Thanksgiving
Nearly three-fourths of U.S. adults won’t be going over the river and through the woods by car this Thanksgiving to visit Grandma’s house, according to a poll commissioned by InsuranceQuotes.com.
The poll indicates that just 28 percent of U.S. adults say they’ll travel by car to a Thanksgiving destination this year. The poll was commissioned by InsuranceQuotes.com and conducted online by Harris Interactive from Oct. 4-6, 2011, among 2,171 adults 18 and older.
One reason for sticking close to home this year may be money, consumer expert Andrea Woroch says. Even though Americans spent heavily during this year’s back-to-school and Halloween sales, “consumers are wary of what’s happening in the economy, and some may be more conservative in their traveling.” Compared with 2010, Woroch doesn’t predict a big increase or decrease in travel during the Thanksgiving break in 2011.
|Just 28 percent of American adults plan to hit the open road to head to a Thanksgiving destination this year, according to poll commissioned by InsuranceQuotes.com.|
For others, a combination of factors may keep them off the road. “Getting together for the holidays has been harder and harder as my kids have gotten older and involved in sports,” says Michelle Morton, a mother from Raleigh, N.C. “When you add in the economy and gas prices, it doesn’t make it easier.” This year, Morton and her family – who have relatives spread out along the East Coast – are opting out of the Thanksgiving get-together and traveling at Christmas instead.
AAA predicts 38.2 million Americans will travel by car over the 2011 Thanksgiving weekend, up 4 percent from 2010. “Automobile travel remains the preferred choice of transportation for holiday travelers,” AAA says, “as it is often more affordable, convenient and flexible.”
While gas prices may be keeping some Americans at home, those heading out are uneasy about the pump. Of Americans planning to travel by car this Thanksgiving, 31 percent are concerned about the cost of fuel, according to the InsuranceQuotes.com poll. According to AAA, the national average price for regular unleaded gasoline was $3.39 per gallon in mid-November, about 50 cents more than one year ago.
Obviously, you won’t be able to fill up for free, but there’s still plenty you can do to cut fuel costs. These four guidelines will help trim your gas bill:
1. Comparison shop. Sites like GasBuddy.com and GasPriceWatch.com list prices at gas stations all over the country. Find the best-priced places along your travel route, then plan to stop for gas accordingly. If you’d rather look as you go, download a GasBuddy or Cheap Gas app to help find prices at stations near your current location.
2. Fuel up early. Since prices tend to rise right before the holiday, consider filling up a few days before the Thanksgiving weekend starts, Woroch says.
3. Swipe a card. Sites like GiftCardGranny.com offer gas cards at a discount. One of these cards can help you save 5 percent to 8 percent on gas.
4. Slow down. Speeds greater than 60 miles per hour will make your car burn through gas faster, Woroch says. Try easing into a reasonable cruising speed during long road trips.
Breaks and brakes
Sixty percent of those spending time on the road over the Thanksgiving holiday will be putting in 100 miles or more round trip, according to the InsuranceQuotes.com poll. Of those, 57 percent plan to take a break along the way.
Travelers heading more than 100 miles one way by car to get to their Thanksgiving destination and who plan to take a break along the way cite using the restroom (82 percent), getting food and beverages (78 percent), fueling up (69 percent) and stopping to rest or sleep (27 percent) as their primary reasons for getting off the road. Of these long-distance trekkers, 62 percent plan to stop at a gas station or convenience store along the way; 58 percent at a highway rest stop or service area; and 54 percent at a restaurant.
Especially over the holidays, travelers need to make a conscious effort to take breaks, says Paula Rivera, a spokesman for car rental company Hertz. “People tend to be in such a rush during this time of year,” Rivera says, “but it’s important to be self-aware and stop to rest, nap or just unwind.”
If you’re among those heading out on the road this Thanksgiving, follow these five tips to make sure your trip is as safe – and relaxing – as possible.
1. Start with a car tuneup. Do a before-trip check to make sure your vehicle is ready for the road. Change the oil if needed. Then check the brakes, tires and fluids to prepare your car for the long — or short — haul.
2. Make sure you’re covered. Before the trip, check with your insurance agent to make sure you have adequate coverage, says Kimberly Schwind, a spokeswoman for AAA Ohio. Having optional comprehensive and collision coverage on your auto insurance policy can help protect you against mishaps related to treacherous roads and deer crashes, both of which are common around Thanksgiving.
3. Avoid the “I’m tired but I can make it” mentality. Falling asleep at the wheel greatly increases your risk of crashing, yet many drive while drowsy during this time of year, Schwind says. If you’re the one driving, have someone stay awake with you, and switch drivers when you get tired. If you don’t have someone in the car that can drive for you, find a safe place to pull over and take a nap.
4. Build in extra time. Especially over Thanksgiving, people often are not realistic about time, says Sheri Wallace, editor of RoadTripsforFamilies.com. “They look at mileage but don’t account for weather, traffic, restless kids, or that they might get a late start because Grandma wanted them to stay,” Wallace says. To avoid a rushed drive, give yourself extra time to get there.
5. Focus on the memories. Unexpected events can come up on the road, Wallace says, but they don’t have to ruin your Thanksgiving. “Accept that things might be a little rough,” Wallace says. “And even if it’s not fun at the moment, it will be a great memory for your family to look back on in the future.”
This survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Interactive on behalf of InsuranceQuotes.com from Oct. 4-6, 2011, among 2,171 adults ages 18 and older. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and, therefore, no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables, please contact John Egan at firstname.lastname@example.org.