Are you traveling this Thanksgiving to celebrate with family or friends? You’re far from the only one. Millions will be traveling on this busy holiday! Consider this your go-to guide on how to travel safely this year.
BEST AND WORST DAYS/TIMES TO BE ON THE ROAD
The long Thanksgiving weekend is among the most crowded time for Americans to be driving.
“As it’s one of the busiest travel weeks of the year, based solely on the fact that more people are on the road, it is a more dangerous time to drive,” says AAA spokeswoman Cynthia Brough. “We want people to look out for the three deadly “D”’s of driving – drowsy, distracted, or drunk.”
Plan to be on the road in the mornings. “The higher risk times are in the evenings because people are drowsy,” says Brough. “Also, the later it is in the day, the more cars will be on the road and the more traffic there will be.”
The Wednesday before Thanksgiving, particularly from noon through the evening, is one such high-risk time due to people heading out on their trip. Coming home, the Sunday after Thanksgiving is also one of the biggest high-risk days.
Plan your route ahead of time and travel with a GPS system, smart phone or old-school maps to offer alternatives if you need a Plan B. And to avoid unnecessary delays, bring along an E-ZPass or change for the tolls, as well as plenty of snacks, and be sure to fill up on gas before you hit the road. Also brush up on tips to handle hazardous road conditions during icy or stormy weathe
GET YOUR CAR CHECKED OUT BEFORE YOU HIT THE ROAD
AIR TRAVEL 2017
A record 28.5 million holiday travelers are expected to fly on U.S. airlines, an increase of 3 percent over Thanksgiving 2016, according to airline trade group Airlines for America.
A4A pegs the increase to a strong economy and low airfares. But while airlines are adding seats to accommodate the spike in demand, crowded airports, full airplanes and bad weather can easily turn the holiday weekend into a travel turkey.
The data teams at Google Flights and Reward Expert confirm that the busiest days to fly over this holiday will be (no surprise) Friday, Nov. 17 and Wednesday, Nov. 22 – before the official holiday – and Sunday, Nov. 26, when everyone tries to make their way home.
Google Flights expects airports in 10 cities – New York City, Boston, Chicago, Orlando, Fort Lauderdale, Miami, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Honolulu – to be the busiest this holiday, while Reward Expert crunched Department of Transportation data from the past five years to predict which airports might give Thanksgiving travelers the most problems this year.
While the Honolulu, Atlanta, Charlotte Douglas, Southwest Florida and Salt Lake City airports had the best on-time performance during Thanksgiving over the past five years, if you’re traveling through Sacramento, Houston Hobby, Oakland, Newark Liberty or San Francisco airports this year, the statistics says you’re likely to encounter delays.
Here are some tips that might make traveling during this holiday a bit smoother.
1. Breeze through airport security.
Some airport websites now have tools that report wait times at their security checkpoints, but assume lines will be longer than usual. Your best defense? Get a good night’s rest and head for the airport extra early.
And keep in mind: If you haven’t yet signed up for TSA PreCheck or Global Entry, you may still have access to some form of expedited lanes screening if you are 75 or older, 12 years or younger, in the military or a disability or medical condition.
2. Travel Light
3. Bring an emergency kit.
Flares aren’t necessary (or allowed) in your carry-on bag, but a kit with some emergency supplies in case of a delay is advised.
Bring snacks (good options include fresh or dried fruit, nuts, energy bars and sandwiches), a refillable water bottle, charged gadgets and rechargers, books and magazines, toys for your kids and a print-out of the reservation information and phone numbers for your airline, car rental company, hotel and the friends or family members who have volunteered to pick you up.
Stash some “mad money.” If a delay gets especially infuriating you can use that cash buy you and your traveling companions a massage, a fancy cocktail, chocolate or some other frivolous, stress-busting treat.
4. Delight in the delays.
Most people would rather get to their holiday destinations as soon as possible. But those who end up spending extra time waiting for their flights will find many airports offering holiday entertainment and many airport restaurants serving special Thanksgiving-themed dishes and full meals. And in dozens of airports there will be teams of therapy dogs and their trainers on duty to help calm jittery nerves.
5. High-Tech Troubleshooting
It’s commonsense to arrive at the airport early — you’ll need the time for parking, security and to wait your turn for that necessary cup of coffee. But you can avoid some airport hassles by taking advantage of useful applications that can be used on your smart phone. iPhone users can get the skinny on the airport, including maps showing the gates and restaurant information, using the GateGuru app. Airlines including Southwest, Delta and American Airlines all have mobile websites where passengers can check in, confirm seats and keep track of their flight status. Check out these top mobile apps for travel.