25 Tips To Make Thanksgiving Travel A Real Breeze

Travel experts have dubbed Thanksgiving week the busiest travel time of the year, and navigating the roads, airports, and train or bus stations this time of year can be especially difficult. With the number of holiday travelers seemingly growing each year, it's never too early (or too late!) to make Thanksgiving travel plans as long as you carefully plan your trip.

Whether you're driving, flying, taking a train, or riding the bus, you know the roads, airways and rails are going to be crowded. Once you've figured out which option is best for you, you will also want to find the best fares, think about where you are going to stay and how you can afford it, as well as get started on your packing list. Planning the trip itself can be a pain if you're taking this time for a vacation, but there are many tools and resources you can use to make it easier. You want to save as much time and money as you can, while still enjoying a holiday with family and friends, so keep these tips in mind and Thanksgiving travel will be a breeze.

Sign Up for TSA Pre-Check

While this process costs $85 for a five-year membership and requires an in-person interview, the idea of waiting in a shorter line and getting through airport security faster should be appealing, especially during the high-traffic holiday season.

Poll Your Friends on Social Media

One of the easiest things to do is talk to people online. Start a poll on Facebook or Twitter to ask friends for suggestions on how to get cheaper airfare, find good hotel deals, or even just tips about what to do and where to go at your destination. On Facebook, you can also try posting a status using a colored background or including a photo to attract attention.

Use Travel Search Engines

Use search engines tailored to looking for cheap flights and hotel rooms: Kayak, Expedia, Google Flights are the places to be. You'll have all possible prices and times at your fingertips, so you can afford a dream vacation.

Travel Mid-Week

Most people travel on weekends. But if you can take some extra time off, try to travel on Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday. You could end up saving big bucks. Plus, the crowds might be a little thinner.

Consider Traveling on Thanksgiving Day

It could be a risky move in case your flight gets delayed, but according to Kayak, people departing and returning on Thanksgiving Day found fares as low as 30 percent below the average price. You'll also find that airports and train or bus stations won't have as many people.

Be Flexible

Making holiday travel easier is all about finding the best price. This may mean flying out on the first flight or the last flight. Leave some wiggle room in your schedule and your wallet will thank you.

Consider an Alternate Airport

Larger airports can be absolutely terrible for the holidays. If possible, you should try to find a smaller or less busy alternative, or you could just compare prices at different airports. For example, flying into New York's John F. Kennedy may be cheaper than LaGuardia (and vice versa). Same with Midway versus O'Hare in Chicago. You never know unless you check all your options.

Consider One-Way Flights

Another way to save possibly big is to purchase separate one-way flights on two different carriers. You might be able to get a better deal getting two one-way flights as opposed to booking a round-trip ticket with one airline.

Book a Nonstop Flight

Fewer stops means less time spent weeding your way through hordes of people from gate to gate in a crowded airport terminal. It'll also make a long trip more bearable.

Keep Checking the Price of Your Flight

Even after you purchase your flight tickets, keep an eye on the price. If the price drops, some airlines have a policy that will get you a refund or credit for the difference.

Download Your Airline's App

One of the best ways to get instant updates is to download the app for the airline you're using. Be sure to turn notifications on to keep track of delays and cancellations.

Check Groupon

Join Groupon, and sign up for their email alerts. Whether you're looking or a deal on a hotel room or a discount on fun activities, Groupon has your back.

Bring a Reusable Water Bottle

Don't waste money on bottled water. Pack your own reusable water bottle and fill it at the airport. You can also fill it up at your hotel or your loved one's home once you get to your destination.

Use a Rideshare App or Taxi

Rideshare apps such as Uber or Lyft sometimes have good deals or can be worth it if you factor in gas money, parking, and the fact that you can rest while traveling. Not only will you save money on the daily parking rates, but you'll also save yourself the headache of endlessly searching for a parking spot.

Take a Bus or Train

Bus and train travel can be a great way to save, and if you have the time, try the scenic route! You might be able to find fares for Megabus, Greyhound or Amtrak that rival even the cheapest airlines.

Watch the Weather

Delays and cancellations can happen in an instant. Keep an eye on any potential storms, and have a backup plan. You also want to take note of the weather so that you know just how much you should bundle up at your destination.

Mind Your Phone Battery

An extra USB charger or a car charger will come in handy for holiday road trips, especially if you're using your phone as a GPS. You may even want to look into a portable power bank, as outlets tend to fill up fast.

Travel Light

There's no need to pack your entire closet, especially if you're only going to be gone a few days. And don't forget to check the weight and size limits for carry-on bags and checked bags.

Don't Check Bags at All

If you can avoid checking a bag at the airport, do it. You won't have to worry about weight, and you won't have to wait at the baggage carousel. Also, it's not uncommon for flights to be delayed or cancelled; so in case you have to get off your plane, you'll have all your belongings with you.

Don't Bring Food in Your Carryon

Remember that you can only carry up to 3.4 ounces of liquids in a TSA-approved toiletry bag. Other foods, such as cakes and pies, may be subject to additional screening. It's best to either leave the cooking to your hosts or help them in the kitchen once you get there.

Clean Out Your Refrigerator and Pantry

Check expiration dates on perishable goods and throw them out accordingly. The last thing you want to come home to is spoiled food and drink.

Secure Your Locks and Appliances

Add "security" to your to-do list. Make sure all doors and windows are locked, and double-check that all appliances are turned off.

Grab Some Cash

You'll never know when you come across a situation where you need to tip someone or you can't use your credit card, like at a restaurant. Avoid paying ATM fees if you can't find a branch of your bank during your trip.

Don't Rent a Car at the Airport

If you need to rent a car, check the rates at an off-airport car rental agency. They may offer better discounts and are not usually subject to the same taxes and fees as those located in the airport.

Take an Extra Vacation Day

You may want to leave some extra time in case you experience a delay returning home thanks to the weather or some other unforeseen event. You could also give yourself an extra day to decompress and enjoy a day at home after you've made it through the chaos of Thanksgiving travel.

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