When you think of Thanksgiving, you probably conjure up images of eating around the family table, watching football and checking out the Black Friday deals. And, if you are like the 48.7 million Americans expected to travel this holiday season, you probably think about the travel frustrations too. Here’s how to make Thanksgiving travel easy.
Consider Your Schedule
Whether you’re flying or driving to your destination, avoid traveling on the Wednesday afternoon before Thanksgiving. The day before Thanksgiving is the most heavily traveled day of the year, according to Google Maps, which tracks map usage in over 21 cities. The Sunday after Thanksgiving is also a heavily traveled day. The best time to drive for Thanksgiving, on the other hand, is on Thanksgiving Day or Black Friday. Driving on these days will help you avoid the majority of the congestion.
If You Plan to Drive:
Look Under the Hood
Before a road trip, it’s always a good idea to check your car and schedule routine maintenance like oil changes. Check your fluid levels, tire pressure and headlights to make sure they are in working order. (Make sure you are road trip ready with these tips.)
See also: How to Build a DIY Roadside Emergency Kit
Check Your Route
There is nothing worse than sitting in bumper to bumper traffic when you are on your way to your destination. If your travel plans will take you on heavily traveled roads, consider using a traffic app like Waze or Google Maps for traffic alerts and notifications. You may be able to find a quicker, less congested route, and get to your destination quicker.
Get Off the Beaten Path
If you aren’t in a time crunch, apps like Roadside America offer for tips on finding hidden or unique attractions along the way. The app includes maps, directions, photos and quirky attractions, and could make getting from point A to point B infinitely more interesting!
Save Money on Gas
When you’re behind the wheel, you’ll likely need to fill the tank at least once. Consider using an app, such as GasBuddy and Gas Guru (available for Apple and Android) will help you find the best deal no matter where you are.
If You Plan to Fly:
Check In Early
Many airlines will allow you to check into your flight 24 hours beforehand. Checking in early secures your seat and allows you to pay any fees before you arrive at the airport, which means you will have one less thing to worry about as you are heading to your gate.
If you are a frequent flier, it may make sense to apply for a TSA PreCheck, which allows you to speed through security without removing your shoes, laptops, liquids, belts and light jackets. This program does involve an application and a pre-screen, and requires applicants to pay a fee, so it’s not right for every traveler. But, if you spend a lot of time at the airport, you may find the process is worth it to avoid the lines.
Lost luggage can be a huge hassle, and add stress to an otherwise great family trip. For this reason, it pays to pack light and carry on your luggage. If you absolutely cannot fit it in your carry on and have to check a suitcase, be sure not to put medications or chargers (or anything you can’t live without) in your checked back.
Allow Extra Time
Be sure to remember that the holidays are a busy travel time – for everyone. You will likely deal with anxious or stressed passengers and personnel. Allow extra time so you are not rushing to get through security and to your gate on time. And, if life gets in the way of your travel plans, keep your cool. The airline will work hard to ensure you are not stranded and unable to get to your destination.
If You Need to Rent a Car
When you arrive at your destination, it’s a great idea to have transportation lined up. Plan ahead – you can book a car ahead of time using a travel booking service like Expedia, Priceline or Kayak. Frequent flier miles and credit card programs may offer discounts if you are looking for a good deal on rates. Be sure to read the terms and conditions carefully to understand limitations and mileage restrictions. And check with your Farm Bureau agent to ensure your auto policy covers you when you are behind the wheel of a rental car!
No Matter How You Get There…
No matter where you are going this holiday season, be sure your travel plans are under control. Contact your Farm Bureau agent to review your insurance before you hit the road. Consider reviewing Roadside Assistance coverage, and rest assured that you are covered.