Thanksgiving is one of the busiest travel times of the year, along with the Christmas travel season in late December. According to Forbes, 51 million Americans are expected to travel 50 or more miles this year during the holiday, making it the busiest Thanksgiving since 2007. Traveling will be very hectic indeed, but here are some tips on how to make Thanksgiving traveling a bit more comfortable and less stressful.
San Francisco, Newark Liberty and Oakland are three of the busiest airports in the country according to Today. If you are flying out of one of these airports or on Tuesday (the day considered to be the worst on which to fly), be sure to budget extra time for security and bag check lines. Early morning flights on Thanksgiving are the least likely to experience delays. When you are flying back, Sundays are known for delays, so take that into account when traveling to the airport. Traveling on Black Friday is also expected to be less busy, as many people are shopping on that day. To avoid getting stuck book non-stop flights and depart from secondary airports that tend to be less busy.
Crowded airports and train stations increase the likelihood of getting sick, so try to protect yourself. Make sure to wash your hands frequently during your travel. To get through security the fastest, choose your security line carefully. Ask the nearest security agent which line is the fastest, and try to avoid standing behind travelers with children or many pieces of luggage, you will more likely get through security quicker. Choosing a line to your left is usually faster as most people are right-handed and tend to select security lines to the right. If you have TSA PreCheck expedited screening, now is the time to use it. Make sure that your Known Traveler Number for TSA PreCheck is entered into your flight reservation (this can usually be done online). Have all your electronics charged in case you need to search for alternative options on the internet.
Know your credit card benefits. Check if your credit card offers any traveling perks such as lounge access, trip cancellation refunds or travel insurance that would help to make your travel less stressful. In case your flight is canceled or delayed, do not wait in line but instead, call your airline directly. You will likely spend less time waiting for assistance on the phone than standing in an airport line to reschedule your flight.
Depending on the size of the plane and the airline, you may be on a plane with a “bulkhead” – the area between seat classes where luggage is sometimes stored. If you have an option to choose your seats, try to avoid seats next to the storage areas. Sit at least one row behind, as these areas are the most crowded, and you don’t want to be surrounded by luggage and people moving luggage around. If you’re planning on bringing a large number of presents and bags, consider shipping some to your destination. Charges for extra luggage might be costly, and shipping gifts will also make your trip a little lighter.
If you are traveling by car during the holiday, Tuesday is also the worst day to travel in the New York City, Boston, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Detroit and Seattle metro areas. Driving in Atlanta and Houston is even worse on Wednesday. The peak traffic times range from 3:00 pm to 7:00 pm in all these areas. To save time on the roads, depart in the morning or later at night. To get an estimate of your arrival time use mobile apps such as Waze that will inform you about traffic conditions and the fastest way to go. GasBuddy is a helpful app to find the cheapest gas along your route.