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Thanksgiving Travel Tips

Updated on March 9, 2014

Know What to Expect

Every year, over 38 million Americans take to the road to celebrate Thanksgiving with family and friends. It can be a hectic, busy time, especially because many of us are given four days at the most to celebrate a holiday.

Whether you are traveling by car, bus, or plane, here are some tips that can make it a bit less stressful – and maybe even fun.

What About You?

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Watch Travel Tips in Action



Travel editor Peter Greenberg provides some tips for those flying – and there are over 2.7 million of you in the friendly skies around the Thanksgiving holiday. Among travelers, fliers are more like to see delays and frustration than drivers.

  • If you can, ship your bags ahead with a door-to-door courier service to save time, money, and hassle. If you can do it three days in advance, you can get a great discount. If this is not an option, try to fit your belongings in a carryon to make travel easier.
  • When packing your carryon, pack your clothing neatly, using plastic zip bags. If you are bringing Thanksgiving gifts, do not wrap them because security will have to unwrap them. Don’t bring liquids, including things like cranberry sauce.
  • The night before your flight, print your boarding pass at home.
  • If you have no baggage and a boarding pass in hand, go straight to the arrivals level and then through security to your gate.
  • When your plane lands, you can be picked up at the departure level because your bags are taken care of and should be at your hotel or accommodations waiting for you.
  • You can avoid crowds by flying early Thursday morning and leaving Friday for home. Most travelers opt to leave Wednesday and go home on Saturday or Sunday, so this is when the airports will be at their most congested and frustrating.

Beat the Madness


Taking a Train

If you are boarding a train and chugging home, take the following steps:

  • Buy your tickets in advance; ordering online is most convenient.
  • Get to the depot about 45 minutes before the train is scheduled to depart.
  • Carry your ID with you all of the time.
  • Pack lightly. You can bring on two carryon bags, not including purses, briefcases, and laptop bags.

How do you travel for holidays?

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For those driving:

  • Make sure your car is prepared: check your oil and other fluid levels and be sure to check your tire pressure before you head out.
  • Check the road conditions for the route to your destination. If necessary, bring emergency winter driving supplies, such as blankets, warm clothing, flashlight, booster cables, and flares. Make sure your cell is charged up before you head out or plug it into a car charger.
  • Plan out your route and an alternate in case. Bring your GPS, car phone charger and/or a good old-fashioned road atlas.
  • If you can, leave on Tuesday and come back on Friday to avoid congested roads. Most people will hit the roads on Wednesday or Thursday and come back Friday or stay at their destination through the weekend.
  • Bring the kids gifts or games for the kids, and if possible, leave your pets with a sitter or with a kennel.

Be Thankful & Smile


See The Big Picture

Remind yourself that you’re supposed to be thankful! Traveling can be stressful, but keep turkey, pumpkin pie, and other desserts in mind, relax, and prepare yourself to deal with extra traffic.

Knowing what to expect will help you deal with inevitable delays or snags in your travel plans.

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    • janices7 profile image

      Janice S 7 years ago

      Great tips! I loved the Adam Sandler video...gave me a good laugh this morning :)

    • Playdoh profile image

      Playdoh 7 years ago from Michigan

      You just made my Thanksgiving a little less stressful. Thank you.

    • acaetnna profile image

      acaetnna 7 years ago from Guildford

      Very useful info - thanks Pinkchic18.