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SALT LAKE CITY — The good, old-fashioned road trip can quickly become a long and tiring experience without preparation.
The Utah Department of Transportation estimates a 20 to 25 percent increase of traffic on Utah’s roads, according to spokesman John Gleason. If you will be one more of 43.4 million Americans traveling 50 miles or more this weekend, there are a few things you should know before you head out.
Gleason said that if at all possible, leave earlier and stay later. He recommends leaving Tuesday evening and staying until Monday. Otherwise, plan around peak times to save time.
UDOT estimates Wednesday traffic will begin steadily building at 10 a.m., until its peak between 3 and 6 p.m., hitting capacity in some areas, like Point of the Mountain. Sunday, the peak will occur between 4 and 5 p.m.
Weather is supposed to be favorable for road travel throughout Utah Wednesday and Sunday, according to the KSL Weather Center.
Take an alternate route
If your schedule is flexible, try an alternate route on your way to or from your destination. While you may not always avoid traffic — UDOT estimates all Utah roads will be more heavily trafficked than normal — you can at least enjoy a different view than the sagebrush-lined I-15.
Get your rest
Anyone who plans to drive should get into the driver’s seat well-rested. Avoid an accident yourself and make the trip easier on your passengers by getting a good night’s rest before the big drive.
Stay on the road, spend less money and keep passengers happy with some food preparation.
If you anticipate being on the road for more than an hour, pack some snacks or a lunch the night before, rather than pulling off the highway to buy expensive convenience store snacks or fast food. Special roadtrip snacks can motivate kids to behave, too.
Don’t forget to stock up on enough water bottles to last the entire trip.
Regardless of planning, weather, crashes and emergencies can halt traffic in its steps. Be prepared to spend a while in the car without getting bored or tired by planning some entertainment beforehand.
For passengers, bring card and travel games or movies. Audiobooks, language-learning programs or podcasts can keep a driver and passengers safely engaged. Many are available for free by download from local libraries and CDs can be checked out beforehand.
For those who don’t get carsick and are heading to a destination that involves some sightseeing, bring along maps, pamphlets or other reading materials that will help prepare your family for the sights.
Simple and contained crafts like knitting, crocheting, embroidery or origami can keep passengers’ hands busy. Journals and sketchbooks, as well as sharpened pencils, are invaluable when the urge to scribble strikes.