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Go Early, Stay Late, and Take Plenty of Sunscreen

By Kate Springle
Maryland Newsline
Thursday, May 17, 2001; links updated July 21, 2007

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - You've probably heard a million warnings about vacation travel, but if you're like many Marylanders, at least some of those warnings have fallen on deaf ears. However, if you're sick of sitting in traffic for more hours than you sit in your beach chair and are ready for some advice, here are a few tips from the Maryland Transportation Authority: 

1. Whenever possible, travel during off-peak hours. This means any time Mondays through Thursdays. Or, if you must go during the long weekend, consult the table below for the best hours to drive, says MdTA's Kerry Brandt, deputy director for the Office of Media and Customer Relations:

Going...Be on the William Preston Lane Jr. Memorial (Bay) Bridge...
East (to the beach)between 10 p.m. Friday night and 8 a.m. Saturday 
West (coming home) between 7 p.m. Saturday and 12 noon Sunday, or after 11 p.m. Sunday 

2. Do fill up on gas before you get onto the bridge. This may seem like an obvious thing, but you'd be amazed how often traffic gets stopped up because someone has run out of gas in the middle.

3. Call for a tow! If you're afraid of driving on the bridge, there's an alternative to the white-knuckled experience you're used to. The Maryland Transportation Authority offers "tow-overs" free of charge. All you have to do is call a day in advance and let staffers know when you're coming. MdTA's general information numbers are 410-974-0341 and 1-888-754-0117.

4. Slow down and enjoy the scenery. Few things can ruin a vacation like a speeding ticket.

5. If you're a repeat visitor, you may want to look into purchasing an E-ZPass, designed to move travelers quickly through toll booths.

6. Give the kids something to do. Invest in a few of the many "travel" games. Or, pick up the Bay Game when you go through the toll booth. Created by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, it's available upon request and is an educational and fun way to keep the kids busy. 

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