The busy Thanksgiving weekend is just around the corner and with it comes some of the busiest travel days of the year. Coupled with low prices at the gas pump and continued growth in the nation’s economy, it’s very possible another record number of people will be traveling for this popular American holiday. While some destinations will clearly be easier to reach than others, any trip of any duration could be ruined by a lack or preparation or a lack of composure.
To help you have a more pleasant experience during your Thanksgiving weekend travel, here are five tips to get you going in the right direction.
Start Planning Now: No trip will be completely mistake free, particularly during before and during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. However, with some advance planning, your Thanksgiving weekend travel can be a lot more manageable and less hectic.
For instance, if you’re flying to your destination, you can go to your airline’s website and check in online 24 hours in advance of your departure, as well as print out your boarding pass. Additionally, a growing number of travelers are using an airline’s mobile app to present their mobile boarding pass via their device prior to the security screening and at the boarding gate. Driving to your destination also requires a bit of pre-trip preparation, such as checking your tire pressure, fluids, signal lights or better yet, having a complete vehicle inspection by a mechanic in advance of your trip. Also before you leave you have a few other tasks to do, such as considering whether or not to stop your mail delivery, newspaper delivery, making sure your home is secure and alerting neighbors that you’ll be gone for a few days.
Related: How-To Guide For Traveling Alone
Pack Smart: If you’re traveling by air, you can save time through the airport and money by simply packing lightly. Instead of waiting in an extra long line to check in your bags and pay a baggage fee at the service counter, try packing everything for the trip in a single piece of TSA-approved carry-on luggage and bring along your personal item, such as a backpack, laptop case or purse, allowing you to go directly to the security screening area.
Additionally, if you’re like most every other traveler, you’ll need to bring chargers for your mobile devices, digital cameras and if applicable, your laptop. A smart way to ensure you won’t forget anything before heading out is to make a checklist of all the items you’ll need, such as medications, gifts and important documents. At the same time, you should also determine what items are best left at home, like valuable jewelry, more than two pairs of shoes or unnecessary gadgets. Traveling by personal vehicle during the Thanksgiving weekend is another scenario when a travel checklist can be very handy. Depending upon the length of the journey, the checklist may include items like healthy snacks, a cooler, plenty of water, paper towels, utensils, emergency road kit and on-board entertainment such as a books, portable DVD player or a tablet with games if traveling with children.
Charge Your Electronic Devices: The night before your trip, you should make a point of charging your mobile device(s), your laptop, digital camera battery and if necessary, a portable charger. If you’re driving and have a car charger, it’s likely you won’t have an issue with your smart phone. On the other hand, if you’re flying and expecting to charge your phone and/or your laptop at the airport, don’t count on it.
That’s because by the time you get to your boarding gate, it’s very likely you’ll discover that all of the charging stations and wall outlets are already in use by other travelers. With the greater possibility of a delay due to weather, you may need to rely on your gadgets much longer than you originally planned. If this happens and you aren’t able to make a call or email of the delay, it can cause stress on both you and your holiday hosts.
Get An Early Start: It doesn’t matter if you’re flying, driving or even taking a train, you should allow plenty of time to arrive at your destination. This is especially true if flying or some other method of passenger transport is part of your travel plans. While the typical recommendation to arrive at the airport for a domestic flight is two hours and three hours for international flights, significantly larger than normal crowds will also be on hand. This means the lines for checked in baggage and TSA security screening will be take much more time, even if you’re authorized for expedited screening from sources like TSA’s Pre Check, Global Entry or having elite status from a major airline. It’s also important to check your airline’s flight status before arriving at the airport. To make things even more manageable, visit MyTSA for update to date information on your airport’s status and its security wait times. For those driving, it really depends upon the length, time and location of your destination. If you’re headed to a major metropolitan, please note that according to Google, the busiest time to drive is the day before Thanksgiving from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Be Patient: With increased traffic on the nation’s highways and crowded airports, traveling before and during the Thanksgiving weekend can be extremely challenging. One of the best ways to cope with the chaotic pace of holiday travel is to just to be as patient as possible and stay on your best behavior when around strangers and congested areas.
By doing so, you’re not only creating a more pleasant environment, you’re also helping protect your health by managing your stress. If you’re driving, make certain to know the weather and traffic conditions beforehand and just know that most everyone else on the road is trying to a friend, relative or loved one’s home.
Related: How To Travel With Toddlers