If you’re headed away from our beautiful bay area, you’re not alone. In our state, an estimated 2.6 million people will be hitting the road.
Roxanne here, and in our family, if we’re going out of state, we try to fly, but even a trip to Tallahassee or Miami is usually going to be a road trip for us. (South Florida is always the coinflip trip. Fly or drive? You’ll save a little time by flying, but you’ll spend more money and possibly be a little more stressed with airport security, cramped seating, etc. Though if you get caught in bad traffic on your road trip, that may cause even more stress and of course, delays.)
So what are some road trip tips from a Tampa Bay native who makes a lot of jaunts around Florida? Here are some themes to keep in mind.
1. Just some general observations about traffic in our area…Thursdays are always the busiest during rush hour driving. (Fridays are a little better. Maybe that’s because some people take off or cut out early on Friday.) Snowbirds are here. Yes, they’ve arrived. We love that they visit Florida, but boy, do they make WEEKEND driving difficult. The highways are packed now on the weekends, and it’s sometimes an even worse time to drive because at least when it’s rush hour, drivers seem to have PURPOSE. On the weekends, everyone is in no hurry and sometimes not paying attention. Like, “It’s the weekend. My brain is off the clock at work and off the clock while I’m driving.” Not good. Be careful! While this is the backdrop of our Tampa Bay traffic, it’s going to be a totally wonky week because it’s Thanksgiving…
2. Know the travel patterns of drivers during this particular holiday weekend. We know Wednesday and Sunday will be the busiest travel days. Now having said that, what good does that really do you if to get the most of your time off, you need to leave Wednesday and return Sunday? Just budget a little extra time. I think it’s more important to pick the time of day to travel that will be most conducive to your family. We like to have our drive overlap our daughter’s nap, so we might do a lunchtime drive. We are not crazy about a nighttime drive at all. Our ideal drive time would be to wake up at 5 A.M. get some coffee and have some good coffee talk as we drive and then get to our destination with time still to enjoy the day.
3. You’ve got to take a couple of breaks while you’re driving. The driver needs a break and of course, everyone needs to use the restroom…and get snacks! The best piece of advice…Be proactive. Don’t just say, “Hey! Looks like Exit 59 has a gas station.” It might be a gas station five miles off the highway. It might have restrooms that haven’t been cleaned in the 2000s. Know where the cleanest, most pristine gas stations are with the largest selections of amenities. Know where you might be able to find an ice cream treat for the kids (or adults). Also, when you know your planned break stops, you have something to look forward to and an approximation as to when you’ll get there.
4. As a mom, my goal is to keep the kiddo entertained and our favorite family activity, when she gets cranky, is karaoke. Singing always makes the ride go faster, and it also wakes the driver up. One soundtrack that always gets me in a good mood on the road is the Despicable Me 3 soundtrack.
The final piece of advice: be a safe driver and don’t be a distracted driver. Also, eating turkey really does make you tired so keep that in mind if you are going to travel after you eat your big Thanksgiving meal.