Nearly 45 million Americans travel every year for Thanksgiving, making it one of the busiest travel days of the year. Flight delays, bad weather, baggage drama and busy airports often are associated with travel around the holiday. Here are some tips to make your trip as smooth as possible and to help you arrive somewhat relaxed at your destination.
Flight ticket prices are offered in different fare categories; book your tickets as early as possible for the most choice in timing and the lowest available fares. Try to book direct flights, since Thanksgiving travel is notorious for delays. If you can’t get a direct flight, book an early morning flight and consider making a holiday out of the trip, beginning the Monday before Thanksgiving and lasting until the Tuesday after. Flight prices peak the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and Friday through Monday after the holiday.
Getting to and through the airport is another hassle. Consider a car service to and from the airport or book your parking spot ahead of time online. Check the traffic, as there likely will be delays going to the airport, and expect long lines at the security check points. If you don’t have it yet, consider applying for Global Entry or another form of the TSA PreCheck program. With this, you can leave your shoes and belt on while allowing your laptops and tablets to stay inside your carry-on bag. This speeds up the screening process, especially if you travel with kids.
Pack as little as possible to avoid checking a bag and baggage claim. Purchase travel-size toiletries before packing, and be sure to limit your liquids, aerosols and gels to less than 3 ounces each, per the Transportation Security Administration. Consider investing in premium seating, allowing you to board early and secure overhead bin space. Select seats during booking, so you and your family are seated together.
Especially when traveling with children, you should ensure that all your mobile devices and tablets are charged. Bring a portable charger and battery backup to avoid running out of power during your trip, and download your favorite music and movies prior to departing. Noise-canceling headphones can do wonders by keeping the in-flight roar to a minimum. Keeping your children busy with games and coloring books also will give you some extra time to relax.
Consider bringing snacks and beverages on-board from the terminal. This will allow you to enjoy food and drinks at your leisure, and avoid spending exorbitant prices for on-board meals. Remember to purchase your beverages inside security, in order to comply with the TSA 3-ounces maximum for transiting through the security checkpoint.
If a connecting flight is unavoidable and results in a long layover, you should consider a one-day pass into an airline lounge. Check with your air carrier and credit card companies, as many of them provide complimentary or discounted access into these lounges. These lounges are quiet and provide food, drinks and even showers while you wait for your connection.
Last but not least, bring a lot of patience with you. By keeping these tips in mind, your holiday travel will be a success.
By Christiane Busch Nyfield, contributing writer and founder of Wunderbar Travel.