15 Nov Pain-Free Thanksgiving Travel

Thanksgiving is fast approaching, and with it, one of the busiest travel seasons of the year. In 2017, nearly 51 million Americans traveled 50 miles or more for Thanksgiving. A common mode of transportation around this time of year is air travel; 3.95 million Americans took the skies for their Thanksgiving travels last year. A number that high can be difficult to conceptualize, but let us put it simply— that’s a heck of a lot of people!

With everyone flying at once, airports and planes alike are guaranteed to be packed. We’ll admit this can be overwhelming, even for the seasoned traveler, but there are ways to make air travel a bit less painful and reduce your travel-related stress significantly.

For many people, a big stressor is timing. Long lines, delayed flights, and so forth can be incredibly unpredictable, especially during high volume travel times. As travelers, it’s important we manage our expectations and understand that some things are truly out of our hands. Expect TSA lines to be long and, though we’d all rather not, expect delays.

So, what does managing our expectations mean? It means we’ll need to give ourselves plenty of time on all fronts. If at all possible, book connecting flights with a healthy layover. While it can be a bit of a drag to wait hours between flights, you’ll be grateful for it if your first flight ends up being delayed. It’s also important you give yourself plenty of time to get through TSA. Long lines mean that airport security can take much more time than expected. A good rule to abide by is to be at the airport a full 2 hours before your flight leaves, but we’d suggest googling your local airport before leaving; airports in large metropolitan areas can sometimes require you give yourself even more time during the holiday season.

The specific date that you fly on can also affect how busy the airports will be. It’s common knowledge that the day before Thanksgiving is an incredibly busy travel day and not the best choice if you’re trying to avoid long lines and delays. A lesser known fact, however, is that the Saturday before Thanksgiving is actually even busier; while lines will be long no matter what, we’d suggest choosing a day in between the two on which to travel.

The hassle of your travel day is often also affected by the airport you choose to fly out of. For many of us, there may actually be a few options to fly from. Often, choosing a smaller airport with less traffic can mean a bit less stress on your travel day. Even if the smaller airport is a bit further from home than the other options, the decreased hassle at the airport is often worth the bit of extra driving you’ll need to do.

Beyond just choosing your flights carefully, there are plenty more small things you can do to make life easier. For example, think ahead when dressing for your travel day. Remember that you’ll be going through TSA; any extraneous accessories will have to be taken off and put back on when you go through the metal detectors. We suggest avoiding jewelry, choosing pants that don’t require a belt, and wearing shoes that are easy to take on and off (slip-ons work best).

Another smart move is to ensure that all your devices are charged before you leave. If you do encounter delays, you’ll want a full battery. With airports as packed as they are around Thanksgiving, there won’t always been available outlets for you to use at your gate. If you plan to be using your devices a good amount, a portable charger can also be a worthwhile investment.

When it comes down to it, some hassles are simply unavoidable when it comes to Thanksgiving travel, but a positive attitude and some managed expectations can make all the difference. We wish you all the best luck with your travels this holiday season; remember to keep calm and carry on!


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