Getting ready for Memorial Day travel

FRESNO, Calif.

Oil prices have gas prices up here slightly in the Valley over the past week. This morning it's $4.41 at the Chevron on Highway 99 and Olive. But that's nothing compared to the price of airfare which is around $400-dollars for a round-trip domestic flight.

So with that in mind, tens of thousands of people are deciding to do a road trip and thousands more will make a 50-50 decision this week. AAA expects car travel will be up slightly over last year by about 1.2 percent, but motorists are believed to be taking shorter trips.

High ticket prices for flying are up about seven percent. The same survey shows air travelers during the holiday will drop 5.5 percent.

ABC News Travel and Lifestyle editor Genevieve Brown says if you're going on a road trip and haven't booked your hotel yet -- there are plenty of reasons to play hard ball with management. "You are going to have a lot more opportunity to save on a hotel than you can on airfare. Don't forget to ask for things like upgrades and free breakfast and free parking. And anything else. The worst thing they can say is no and you'll be very very surprised that people are going to say yes.".

Now there's a perception out there that gas magically goes up for holiday's like Memorial Day. That's not always true -- but just to be safe you might want to gas up on Wednesday or Thursday if you can so that you squeeze out every penny of savings before the big weekend.

Travel tips for the best Memorial Day weekend ever
The driving frenzy that is Memorial Day weekend is almost upon us. Here are some tips to help ensure that your next road trip is one you'll always remember, rather than one you'll want to forget.

Is your vehicle fit?
Lift the hood. Fluids, filters, belts, hoses, cooling system, brakes and tires should be checked. Be sure all the lights and turn signals work. Windshield wiper blades shouldn't streak or scrape. Make sure that your spare tire is usable and properly inflated.

If your car's battery is more than 3 years old, have it checked. Better yet, replace it. Make sure your air-conditioning system is fully charged. If your vehicle has a cabin air filter, have it cleaned.

Speaking of cleaning, because you'll be spending a lot of time in your ride, clean the interior.

Finally, If your car or truck has high mileage, is too small or has been unreliable, consider a rental.

The art of packing
Heaviest items should be placed closest to the center of the car. In SUVs, place the heaviest items on the floor to maintain safe handling. Loose items should be secured. Remove loose items from the rear parcel shelf so they don't hit passengers in a panic stop. As you pack the trunk, remember that you might have to unpack it to access the spare tire. Keep your rear view clear, no matter how large the load.

Make sure the combined weight of passengers and cargo doesn't exceed your vehicle's maximum load capacity. Overloading can overtax vehicle systems and lead to a serious accident. The capacity is listed in your owner's manual and varies by vehicle and are lower than you might expect. A four-cylinder Honda Accord has a maximum load capacity of 850 pounds.

For the kids, bring their favorite toys and books, or consider a portable DVD player, iPad or MP3 player, such as an iPod touch. For yourself, take along your CDs, DVDs, DVD player, iPod, or audio books. Or leave it all at home and use the time for family bonding.

Worst-case scenarios
Give someone a trip itinerary so you be can located in an emergency. Don't forget your driver's license, vehicle registration, and auto and medical insurance cards. Take your doctor's phone number, along with any prescriptions. Have someone carry a spare set of vehicle keys. And, you are taking a mobile phone with car charger, right?

Be prepared
A breakdown, flat tire or other inconvenience can occur at any time. Pre-assembled emergency and first aid kits are available at auto parts stores, but you might want to augment them.

First aid kit
Consider having adhesive tape, gauze bandage, gauze pads, plastic band strips, disinfectant salve, small scissors, pain relievers, tweezers, hand sanitizer.

Emergency kit
Screwdrivers - Phillips and flat-head, pliers, socket wrenches, duct tape, electrical wire tape, electrical wire spray, WD-40, flashlight with extra batteries, coolant hose repair kit, small fire extinguisher, jumper cables, tire gauge, road flares, spare fuses, foam tire sealant or a portable air compressor, jumper cables, rain gear, work gloves, roadside assistance phone number, a disposable camera (to record accident damage), spare fluids and nonperishable food.

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