How to Safely Hit the Road in California for Thanksgiving This Year

family on road trip in car

With COVID no longer as big a threat as it’s been, millions of people are expected to take to the highways and byways of California for Thanksgiving. Will you and your loved ones be among that impressive crowd? Don’t forget your car insurance, along with these 6 tips to help Golden State motorists stay as safe and stress-free as possible during their holiday travels. 

1. Winterize Your Ride before Your CA Trip 

What does that mean in a state so diverse in its climate and topography? You definitely experience a different winter if you’re in San Diego than if you live in or near Mount Shasta up in the north. 

If you live in or are traveling to blustery winter weather, you need to make sure your radiator has anti-freeze and possibly even mount snow tires. Remember, wherever you live or roam in the state, you should check the condition of belts, hoses, wiper blades, and brakes. 

Even if your winters are gentle, it’s a great excuse to get your vehicle in travel condition before the holidays. You’d hate to miss dinner altogether because your car is stuck on the side of some forlorn road and you’re waiting for a tow truck. 

2. Pack an Emergency Kit for Your Thanksgiving Trip in California 

If it does happen that you become stranded for any reason, you want to be prepared for the worst. That means packing and keeping an emergency kit. At the very least, you should include the following: 

  • Flashlights and batteries 
  • Water bottles 
  • First aid kit 
  • Emergency road flares 
  • Non-perishable foods 
  • Cellphone charger 
  • Blankets (if you’ll be traveling in a part of the state that gets cold) 

3. Charge Your Phones before Leaving Home 

Today, it seems that almost everyone in a typical American family has a phone⁠ — from oldest to youngest. That might be a bit of a hassle when it comes to your monthly phone bills, but it can be a good thing for holiday travel in California. 

Be sure to get all those phones fully charged before you hit the road. Don’t count on being able to use the car’s phone charger, since that won’t work if you have a road emergency that involves a dead battery. The more fully charged phones you have before you travel, the likelier you’ll be able to get help when you need it most. 

phone charging

4. Let Others Know Your Travel Plans 

This tip is especially important if you’ll be traveling in parts of California that are more desolate ⁠— and there are still plenty of those areas. The last thing you want is for your vehicle to break down in a part of the state where the snow cover is thick and cellphone service is iffy at best. 

Send a text to loved ones telling them when you leave your home, what route you’re taking, and when you expect to arrive. That way, they’ll have useful information to share with authorities if you don’t show up. 

5. Don’t Drink and Drive 

This advice is always critical. As it pertains to your holiday plans, drinking and driving could come into play if you expect to leave for a return home on Thanksgiving Day. Maybe you don’t live that far from your holiday destination, and you’re going to arrive and leave on the same day. That’s fine, but take it easy on the holiday spirits if you do. 

In the state of California, an adult motorist is considered impaired with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of just 0.08 percent. Depending on sex, body weight, and the amount of time after that last drink, a driver can reach a legal impairment level on as few as two drinks. You might think you’re fine, but your skills behind the wheel can be negatively affected. 

Don’t think the answer is to put your minor child in the driver’s seat because they barely had one drink. In California, drivers under the age of 21 are considered impaired with a BAC reading of as little as 0.01. 

6. Check (and Possibly Upgrade) Your Car Insurance 

The worst time to reacquaint yourself with your auto insurance coverage is after a collision. Before you undertake your holiday road travels, give it at least a quick scan to see if you think your policy will keep you financially secure. 

If you only have liability coverage in order to pay as little as possible for your policy, this might be a good time to consider adding comprehensive and collision too. After all, liability only covers others if you’re involved in an at-fault accident. It doesn’t cover the perhaps significant and costly damages to your own vehicle. It might be worth the additional investment to keep you out of a desperate financial situation. 

This is also a good time to add roadside assistance if you don’t already have that benefit on your car insurance policy. Roadside assistance is a guarantee of 24-hour qualified help, even on weekends, in the dead of night, or on holidays. 

Call the 800 number you’re given, and you’ll get assistance in the form of a driver who can bring you gasoline, tire change assistance, a battery charge, or a tow to a service garage⁠ — whatever help you need, whenever you need it. 

Your independent auto insurance agent can interpret your existing coverage and help you determine whether you should switch carriers or upgrade. Plus, since independent agents have access to policies from multiple carriers, they can help you shop for the most affordable car insurance to make your holiday travels safe and secure. 

Find Affordable Auto Insurance in California Today 

Call your independent Cost-U-Less Insurance agent at (800) 390-4071 for affordable car insurance before you travel. You can also get a quick quote online or find a Cost-U-Less location near you. Wishing you and your loved ones a safe and enjoyable holiday!