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Thanksgiving Family Travel Tips

Updated on October 21, 2009

Holiday traveling with your family can be the best of times and the worst of times. Spending time together and visiting relatives can be a bright spot in your year; but fighting crowds, coping with unexpected travel delays, and entertaining small children can quickly feel more like a chore than a vacation. Before making your plans for travel this Thanksgiving, consider these tips that will make your trip much smoother—you may even add them to the list of things you’re thankful for!

Plan, Plan, and Plan
The more planning you do for your Thanksgiving travel, the less stress you will encounter on your trip. If you’re flying, schedule your flight far in advance. Consider booking flights on Monday or Tuesday and returning on Friday. Most people will fly on the weekend days, so this will help you avoid crowds and pay less for your tickets. You can also consider flying on Thanksgiving Day itself, which will also save you money.

Keep in mind that with the downturn in the economy, many airlines are seating fewer people or reducing the number of flights they offer. This is another reason to book ahead to ensure that you have a flight that fits your schedule. You should plan on at least one hour between connecting flights, in case your first flight is delayed. While nonstop flights may be an attractive option for you, consider the length of time your small children can tolerate at a stretch. 


Whether you’re flying or driving, build extra time into your schedule to account for unexpected delays. Plan to show up to the airport several hours early so you’re not rushed. If driving, carve out 10 hours for your 8-hour trip to allow for rest stops for the kids, stops for meals, or car trouble.


Bring the Entertainment 

If you’re traveling with small children, bring entertainment to keep them occupied in the plane or in the car. This will reduce your holiday driving stress and make a more enjoyable trip for everyone. Fill a small bag for each child with games, coloring books, and small snacks. For car rides, bring music the kids will enjoy or movies to play on a portable DVD player. Plan rest stops along the way, at least every 90 minutes or so, for everyone to stretch their legs. Have your children take turns riding in front to break up some of the monotony of the drive.


Image Credit: Stig Nygaard, Flickr


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