15 Tips To Make Thanksgiving Travel A Breeze

15 Tips to Make Thanksgiving Travel a Breeze

About 47 million Americans journeyed 50 miles or more from home last year, the highest number of travelers since 2007. This is a 0.6 percent increase over the previous year, according to AAA Travel. Airlines carried more than 27 million passengers over the 4-day holiday, a 2.5 percent increase. If your Thanksgiving plans include traveling, whether by plane or car, you need to know how to cope with the imminent chaos.

Prepare your entertainment

Charge all of you electronic devices and download all of the movies, shows, videos, music and games you know you'll be watching, listening to or playing. You can't count on the airport or airline's Wi-Fi, which is often not free and slow. Don't waste a minute being annoyed; it's not good for your health.

Pack light and don’t check your bags

Many factors don't depend on you when it comes to air travel. The only aspect of which you have full control is your carry-on luggage. Don't check bags because then you'll have to spend more time at the airport and away from friends and family waiting for it at the carousel. Besides, checked bags often get lost. Also, save money on baggage fees.

Buy travel insurance

Thanksgiving travel is famous for long delays, bad weather and canceled flights. Travel insurance will reimburse you if you need to change your flight or cancel your trip altogether. It also covers any items that may have been lost during delays. It usually costs around $20 per trip.

Book as early as you can

The earlier you book your flight, the higher the chances you'll save more money. The best time to book a flight is on Tuesday night or Wednesday early morning, travel agents say. The heaviest travel days are the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and Sunday and Monday after. High demand means high prices.

Activate credit cards

Being in a different city with no money is a frustrating experience. Prevent this from happening by simply calling your credit card company to notify them of any travel plans you have. This is especially true if you're visiting a different country. If they see a charge from a place you have no history being, they are likely to block the card. Always bring cash with you, just in case.

Sign up for PreCheck

On a typical travel day, TSA PreCheck and similar programs may help you save a few minutes, but during some of the busiest travel days of the year these programs are life-savers. Keep your shoes on, and don't worry about removing your belt or coat—make it to your gate that much sooner.

Consider alternative airports

Low-cost carriers usually fly into smaller airports, which can offer tremendous savings on your travel. You're going to deal with fewer crowds. That has tons of advantages – little chance of delays, major problems or lost luggage – because the staff won't be so busy. If you're going to Chicago, fly into Midway instead of O'Hare; pick Maryland instead of Washington International, and Oakland instead of San Francisco.

Fly in the morning or at night

There are a handful of benefits to flying at night—typically lower rates, fewer delays, less crowded airports and the potential to sleep through the flight—but what many people don't realize is that there are also fewer delays during the morning. After analyzing 6 million flights, experts recommend avoiding flights between 11 a.m. and 11 p.m. to dodge delays that get worse as the day goes on.

Drink lots of water

Traveling tends to dehydrate you. It's important to keep water on-hand. Staying hydrated will help you feel better when you land, keeping energy levels up. Dehydration dries your skin and causes muscle cramps, headaches, bad breath, fatigue and bad mood. Don't do any of these to yourself.

Avoid short layovers

Delays are to be expected when you're traveling around Thanksgiving. If you have to connect to a different flight to reach your destination, make sure you have at least two hours of layover time. Flights are independent of each other. If the first one is late, the second will not wait for it.

Check in online

Make your time at the airport minimal. Head straight to the security check line. Make sure you print your boarding pass if you have to. Not all airlines give you the option to board the plane by scanning your ticket. Sign up for flight alerts to be notified if there are any changes to your flight.

Fly on Thanksgiving Day

The lightest day is Thanksgiving Day itself because everybody wants to be at their endpoint by then. Right now, for example, a round-trip ticket with from Newark, New Jersey (an alternative airport to JFK or LaGuardia) to Fort Lauderdale on November 24 at night and coming back on Tuesday, November 29, is $175. It's $89 one-way. The same one-way ticket, but the day before, is $198.

Plan going to and leaving the airport

Don't spend extra time at the crowded airport figuring out how to leave it. Book a pick-up in advance, if no one will be there to drive you. This is especially convenient during the holidays. Don't fall into the trap of greedy cab drivers who may charge you a lot more than the regular fare.

Snack right

Flights and long travel days open you up to getting sick—especially during cold and flu season, so it pays to prepare. Have a healthy snack before you leave so you don't need to buy food at the airport, which is often expensive and too processed. Bring cut fruits, carrots or granola bars to keep you full and energetic during your travel adventures.

Store important phone numbers

Important phone numbers such as those of travel insurance, airline customer service, car information (if you're driving), people who are expecting you, etc. are important to have nearby so you can call in case of an emergency or extreme delays. You'll need help if you're in trouble and you don't want close family and friends to be worried if you don't show up on time.