Millions of Americans – almost 51 million, to be exact – are expected to hit the road this Thanksgiving holiday weekend. A little planning ahead can make all the difference, so here are eight top tips for a safe and enjoyable Thanksgiving journey.

  1. Perform a short maintenance check

As soon as you can, before you leave, perform a quick check of the following to address any safety issues before you hit the road:

  • Check tire pressure and tread depth
  • Check and/or replace wiper blades
  • Fill windshield washer fluid reservoir
  • Test your car battery
  1. Prepare a winter safety kit to bring in your vehicle

Be road trip smart: Have these items on hand should a roadside emergency occur:

  • Sand, cat litter, or traction mats for slippery or snowy roads
  • Small shovel
  • Gloves, hats, and blankets
  • Flashlights with fresh batteries and warning flares or triangles
  • Shop rags or paper towels
  • Drinking water and non-perishable snack bars
  • Warm clothes
  • Basic hand tools
  • Charger for your phone
  1. Avoid traveling during peak times

Google Travel says it has found that Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving, and the Sunday after Thanksgiving are the busiest days of the season to travel. It’s not too late to see if you can rearrange your plans to take advantage of off-peak times.

  1. Set off well-rested

Get plenty of rest before you set off so you can remain alert throughout your journey. National Sleep Foundation research tells us that 60% of Americans have driven while feeling sleepy in the past year. Yet driving while tired affects driving ability in the same way as drinking alcohol; it reduces reaction times and affects concentration and co-ordination. Allow plenty of time for a good night’s sleep before you set off – and remember to avoid drinking alcohol the night before driving to avoid “morning-after” impairment.

  1. Focus on the drive

When you’re on the road focus on just that: the road. Plan ahead so that backseat passengers are occupied and less likely to cause a distraction. Put your phone out of sight or designate a family member to answer your calls/ texts during the journey. Set up GPS before you set off and avoid eating and drinking while driving.

  1. Make pit stops a priority

Make sure the driver of your trip takes a break every two hours or 100 miles. This will keep the driver alert, aware, and ready to handle any situation holiday driving may bring.

  1. Share the road with all drivers, including truck drivers

Drivers of larger vehicles are often the victims of other drivers’ anger and frustration. Their size might make them look invincible to other vehicles, but that size can actually be a stressful detriment to a trucker’s driving experience. Take extra steps to let the trucker know you’re passing them – this includes keeping your turn signal on longer than normal and making 100% sure the truck is clear of your vehicle before changing lane

8. Keep an eye on your in-car valuables at all times

Municipalities across the country are stepping up efforts to reduce holiday thievery, especially incidents committed by those who peer through car windows to see what’s valuable inside. When stopping for a break mid-road trip, let travelers leave the vehicle in shifts so that someone is always present. Once you’ve reached your destination, be sure to remove everything of value inside. Check twice to be certain.

Have a safe, happy Thanksgiving!