The holiday season is in full swing, and that has many people planning festivities with loved ones. But for those with family and friends spread out all over the country, getting together requires a lot of advanced planning.
This year, many people who have to travel great distances to be with loved ones may be driving to their destination. One survey took a look at how many drivers are gearing up to hit the roads for the holidays and what they're doing to prepare for their adventures.
Road trips remain popular
DMEautomotive recently conducted research examining the travel habits of Americans. The organization found that more than one-third of people already have plans to drive
somewhere, with another 16 percent contemplating a road trip. Many are considering getting behind the wheel because it's more affordable than flying, especially with gas prices falling consistently.
"Gas prices are the lowest they have been in five years, so it makes sense that a large number of consumers are reporting that they plan to drive long distances over the winter holidays," said Mary Sheridan, Ph.D., of DMEautomotive.
Another reason people might be anxious to hit the roads is because they have a new car. Sales of brand new models have been booming throughout the year, and people with these modern rides trust them to complete lengthy trips. Even those motorists in new vehicles need to plan ahead, however, as these cars require the same maintenance and pre-trip precautions as older models.
Preparations are key
Of the millions of Americans driving, most - about 79 percent - intend to take their own cars out on the road as opposed to renting. Additionally, half of these drivers will be racking up more than 400 miles round trip, and one-sixth may add nearly 1,000 miles.
These rigorous road trips require some forethought on the part of car owners. The smartest drivers go for preventative vehicle maintenance
prior to pulling out on the roadways, as the right care provides peace of mind and a better driving experience. The trick is determining which fixes are going to make for the safest, smoothing ride.
According to DMEautomotive, most are gearing up for a road trip by investing the right tune ups. Approximately 70 percent plan to check tire pressure beforehand, with another 63 percent cleaning the car so it's ready for passengers, luggage and gifts. Other tasks that are receiving some attention include getting an oil change
, replacing windshield wiper blades, testing the battery and examining the HVAC system.
"We are pleased to see that consumers are taking care to ensure their vehicles are ready to hit the road," Sheridan said. "Auto service centers should take note: 90 percent of these travelers plan some pre-trip vehicle prep, including oil changes, fluid and tire checks, and, for more than one-third of those driving over 600 miles, a full vehicle inspection."