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Holiday Travel Etiquette and Safety Tips

The holidays bring forth increased travel. It’s often thought the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and the Sunday after are the heaviest travel days, but the National Household Travel Survey states otherwise. When personal trips are combined with the masses at airports, bus stops, and train stations, Thanksgiving Day is actually the busiest.

Last year, AAA estimated 46.3 million Americans traveled 50 miles plus from home and concludes almost 90 percent of Americans will travel this year for Thanksgiving.

That matches the United States Department of Transportation, citing during the 6-day Thanksgiving travel period, trips 50 miles or more, increased 54 percent. The average Thanksgiving trip is 214 miles.

To help ease holiday travel, Ford Motor Company and The Emily Post Institute collaborated on simple, yet effective etiquette and safety tips. Emily Post is considered America’s foremost etiquette expert and in 1949, addressed etiquette and safety as it related to an ever growing automotive culture.

Daniel Post Senning, Emily Posts’ great-great-grandson, is following her footsteps today with similar fashion. Here are our favorite holiday travel etiquette and safety tips, courtesy of Ford and The Emily Post Institute.

Drivers Are Hosts

Just as you would invite a friend or family member to your house, your vehicle is similar. For the duration of the trip, they are in your personal space so make them feel welcome. Every vehicle these days has keyless entry so unlock the door before they reach the car. Better yet, open the door for them and then close it once they sit down.

If you have a remote start, use that to your advantage and get your car warmed up ahead of time. Remote starts have a universal appeal and will be well received by your travel companions.

Once inside, before taking off, give your guests a grand tour of your car. Seriously, this works wonders. When I give a business associate, potential client, or trusted friend a ride in my Ford Fusion, I point out the My Ford Touch screen. I let them know how to activate the heated/cooled seats and change climate settings according to their comfort.

It is always appreciated by my passengers.

These days, smartphones are common and it’s likely somebody forgot a charger. Invest in something like a Nomad RoadTrip to accommodate passengers who may not have their charger with them. Many cars these days have USB ports too. If you know you are riding with your guitar shredding brother to Thanksgiving dinner, surprise him with a flash drive full of hard rock and alternative grunge.

While music is awesome and podcasts are informative, there is no substitute for good, old fashioned conversation. Be sure, as the driver and host, to interact with your passengers in a genuine and authentic way.

A Passenger’s Part

Nobody likes a freeloader so if you are a passenger, chip in for gas and grub. Help load the vehicle with suitcases and bags. If you are in the front seat, run the navigation duties and serve as a second set of eyes. If you anticipate going through areas of limited cell service, look at a map beforehand to have an idea of where to go in case your driver needs help.

With The Kids

We know the dreaded “are we there yet,” over and over again. When traveling with little ones, create a fun trip itinerary they can follow along with. It can point out anything from food and rest stops to historic places and national parks. This will pass time for not only kids, but adults too.


One of the biggest factors now in auto accidents is distracted driving. Ford studies show American’s can be conflicted on in-car entertainment. As a driver, be gracious and let everybody hear their favorite song or podcast but keep the noise level moderate.

If you need to send a text, ask a passenger to do it or use your vehicle’s voice activation system, if equipped.

Try to avoid traveling after a big Thanksgiving meal too. Be it driver or passenger, everybody is going to be more likely to fall asleep, thanks to the turkey’s tryptophan. Studies have shown driving while sleepy is equal to driving under the influence.


When everybody is looking for a parking space it becomes frustrating. It may seem obvious but park inside the lines and don’t hog two spaces. When you turn into a spot, only to see a car over the line, it can be irritating.

Don’t be that person.

If your vehicle has a parking assistance system, use that to guide you between the lines in a packed parking lot.

What holiday driving etiquette and safety tips do you have? Share them with us here.

Carl Anthony is Managing Editor of Automoblog.net and resides in Detroit, Michigan. driving-etiquette

  1. I actually haven’t ever thought of being a driver like this before. This takes driving people in your car to another level. Thanks for the insight!

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