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It’s that time of year again — the holiday travel season is about to begin. The Wednesday before Thanksgiving and the Sunday afterwards are known to be some of the most hectic travel days of the year. TPG International Contributor Lori Zaino offers some tips and advice for those traveling over Thanksgiving hoping to have a minimally traumatic travel experience.
Thanksgiving travel: the bane of my existence. The holiday “cheer” combined with the short amount of vacation time usually allotted for this holiday, plus the possibility (usually, the certainty) of that first winter storm occurring. Add to that lines, crowds and delays, and everyone is on their last nerves.
But Thanksgiving travel doesn’t have to be awful. If you follow some of the below tips, perhaps you can improve the quality of your Thanksgiving travel experience–at least a little bit.
1. If possible, travel off-peak
Take an extra day or two off work so you can travel on the Tuesday before or the Monday after. If it just isn’t possible, you can also avoid a lot of holiday crowds if you fly on Thanksgiving Day — and flights are usually much cheaper, too. If you get an early morning flight on Thanksgiving, you may still make it in time for turkey!
2. Pick flights with layovers in warmer climates, like Los Angeles, Dallas or Atlanta
If at all possible, avoid layovers in places like Chicago, Minnesota and Detroit if you’re heading across the country. Growing up in Chicago, I can attest to the fact that somehow there always seems to be a blizzard on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving at O’Hare.
3. KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON
Deep breaths and positivity can go a long way. (So will a stiff drink at the airport bar–look for me there at the Delta Terminal in Atlanta this Thanksgiving.) It’s likely you will encounter delays, lines, crowds, rude passengers and airline employees, and even cancellations, but if you’re happy and friendly, time will pass quickly and airport workers may be nicer to you. I constantly see people screaming at airport workers. I know it seems obvious that this is a bad idea, but do you really think they’re going to help an angry, hysterical, rude passenger? Stay calm, be kind, and hopefully karma will bring it back to you. And don’t worry–you’ll be home eating mom’s pumpkin pie soon.
If you realize big delays or cancellations are coming, have a Plan B. Pack everything you can to make sure you will be as comfortable as possible at the airport or on a full flight. For me, this means my iPad, Kindle, neck pillow, headphones, protein-filled snacks like nuts, and of course, my phone. To each his own, of course.
5. Three words: Noise. Cancelling. Headphones.
Delays and airports around the holidays mean you will be around lots of kids, families, dogs, screaming babies (or adults). Cancel it out!
6. Don’t leave home without your electronics fully charged and an extra battery pack
Airport charging ports will be in demand, especially during delays or bad weather. On any typical travel day, I wander around most airports aimlessly, searching for a plug in a sea of empty walls empty walls. The few charging areas will most likely be full, so make sure you charge everything before you leave, and if possible, bring along extra battery packs or external chargers.
7. If you have kids, make sure you are prepared with games, toys and snacks for them in case you are stuck in the airport for a long period of time.
Kids will be kids and they will, of course, get restless (as do adults). However, if you have snacks and games prepared for them, it might make things just a bit easier for you, them… and everyone else around you.
8. Make sure to have airline phone numbers on speed dial
Obviously, if you have elite status, these are the moments where calling beats standing in a super-long line when your flight gets canceled. Non-elite flyers may also end up getting re-booked via phone before it’s their turn in a long line.
9. Make a vacation out of it
Although it’s becoming more popular to head to Europe around Thanksgiving, it’s still usually less hectic than heading to the U.S., as this isn’t a typical European holiday. So, take the full week off and make a trip out of it–go somewhere you want to visit. You can always head to your sister-in-law’s next year for Thanksgiving.
10. If possible, try alternate methods of travel
Take the train, hop in your car or even take a bus. In the end, it may take less time than flying if there are delays. Do a little research and see what works best for you.
11. Get to the airport early
I can’t stress how important is to simply get to the airport early if only for your sanity and stress levels. A relaxed flyer is a happy flyer, after all. Lines are typically much longer during Thanksgiving, so give yourself plenty of time to check in and get through security.
12. Use Shortcuts to Avoid Long Lines
Happy Thanksgiving from the TPG Team to all our readers out there! We’re wishing you stress-free travel and accumulation of miles and points this holiday season!
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How do you cope with stressful holiday travel?
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