Does the thought of traveling during the holidays fill you with dread? Instead of avoiding the Thanksgiving season, ease some of the pain of the crowds, flight delays, and inclement weather with these tried and true 6 simple Thanksgiving holiday travel tips.
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6 Thanksgiving Holiday Travel Tips
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While many can simply avoid the craziness of holiday travel, it’s not an option for others who have aging parents or adult children and grandchildren located across the globe. (Hello, I want to see my grandchildren!) While I can’t ease all the pain of the crowds, flight delays, and inclement weather, I can offer you these tried and true tips for Thanksgiving holiday travel.
Record-Breaking Holiday Travel Expected in 2018
Tis the season to spend time with family and friends — and as your family grows and spread out across the world, holiday travel is also complicated. And it’s going to be a busy holiday travel season in 2018.
AAA projects 54.3 million Americans will journey 50 miles or more away from home this Thanksgiving, a 4.8 percent increase over last year – and last year was already record-breaking! This AAA article continues, “The 2018 holiday weekend will see the highest Thanksgiving travel volume in more than a dozen years (since 2005), with 2.5 million more people taking to the nation’s roads, skies, rails and waterways compared with last year.”
“Consumers have a lot to be thankful for this holiday season: higher wages, more disposable income, and rising levels of household wealth,” said Bill Sutherland, AAA Travel senior vice president. “This is translating into more travelers kicking off the holiday season with a Thanksgiving getaway, building on a positive year for the travel industry.”
The Thanksgiving holiday period is defined as Wednesday, November 21 to Sunday, November 25.
“More expensive gas prices are not swaying holiday revelers to stay home,” said Bill Sutherland, AAA senior vice president, Travel and Publishing. “In fact, across the board this year, travel has increased year-over-year for every major holiday weekend – Memorial Day, Independence Day, Thanksgiving – and we project the same for the year-end holiday period. We’ve seen the strong economy and growing consumer confidence fuel holiday travel all year long.”
And so here we are in the midst of (or anticipating) another possibly stress-producing Thanksgiving holiday travel. Consider these 6 simple tips for holiday travel — or really travel tips that work any day of the year.
1. Do your research.
Whether you’re a planner or a procrastinator looking for last-minute deals, family travel is complicated. Simply it by doing your research. Choose flexible travel dates to help you pinpoint the best deals — and the best schedule.
For Thanksgiving, Wednesday is generally the busiest day, which (in general) the day before any holiday tends to be the busiest and most expensive.
And when you’re not sure, use a flight search engine that allows input of flexible travel dates. Then do a search to see what flights are most expensive, and adjust your travel dates accordingly. Also, when possible, I set flight fare alerts at AirfareWatchDog.com which will send me an email when fares drop to a destination I travel frequently, like visiting my daughter and her family (grandkids!) in Oregon.
Same applies if you’re taking the train or road tripping. Avoid the crowds and do your research!
2. Plan carefully.
Flying in the winter may increase the chances of flight delays due to inclement weather. Flying during hurricane season also raises the risks of canceled or delayed flights. Avoid short flight layover times to reduce the risk of missing connecting flights. Or choose connections in warmer cities (less chance of weather delays), when possible. Also, choose airlines and cities with on-time flight records.
For road trippers, map out your trip carefully, considering possible weather delays, road closures, and detours.
3. Pack Light.
Now that most airlines charge to check bags, save money by packing lighter to save money. Also, consider carrying on your suitcase to avoid possibly lost or delayed checked bags (which has happened to me too many times to count).
Instead of packing your gifts, consider shipping them to your destination. Or shop once you land. Since my daughter lives in sales-tax-free Oregon, I save money simply by waiting to shop there (and that 6+ percent tax does make a difference!)
4. Leave early, whether flying or driving.
Worth repeating and one of the most important tips for holiday travel: leave early! Especially during the holidays. Traffic jams, parking, passing through security, lines at the airport kiosks, lines at the gas stations — the list goes on and on for possible delays.
If you plan on taking the light-rail transit system to the airport, use it to avoid traffic and airport parking, but also take an earlier time to avoid possible delays. Allow buffer time by leaving early.
5. Stay up-to-date on flight changes and road closures.
To be alerted for flight changes, simply download your airline’s app, and you also receive alerts on gate changes and delays. When booking your flight, you are often given the option for text alerts — sign up!
Unfortunately, when traveling, I’ve experienced canceled connected flights before I even landed. Upon landing and turning on my phone, I had already received an email AND a text informing me of the delay – before I even had a chance to check the airline app.
Amtrak also offers text alerts, as do other train services. Find that information on their websites.
Each of the states within the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway offers traffic and road closure information. Click here for links and details on how to find that information.
6. Stay healthy while you travel.
Traveling in close proximity to others increases your chances of getting sick, so it’s important to stay healthy while you travel. Remember to stay hydrated, get plenty of rest, bring healthy snacks, and move around to avoid blood clots.
It’s true that airports, train terminals, highways, and byways will be crowded, especially now that the economy is perking up. Whether your travels are in the winter or summer, with these tips for holiday travel, your travel fate is partly in your own hands.
Protect your Investment – Purchase Travel Insurance
And finally, the bonus tip for holiday travel (and really all four seasons travel), protect your investment in your vacation. Buy Travel Insurance!
What are your tips for holiday travel? Share with us below!