The Insider’s Guide to Surviving Thanksgiving Holiday Travel

By Anna Breuer on 15 November 2017
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Despite the much-delayed start of winter in many parts of the country, Thanksgiving is just around the corner as is one of the busiest travel periods of the year.

If that’s not enough, the number of people expected to take to the skies in the 12-day travel period is expected to increase by 3%.

Here follow some tips that should help you get where you are going and enjoy the holiday with minimal stress.

1.) Leave Early
Keep in mind that the busiest travel days are the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, this year November 22, and the Sunday after the holiday, November 26. If you have to be back in time for work the following Monday and a storm is brewing, consider leaving a day or two early. When severe weather is forecast, airlines will typically issue travel waivers that allow changes or cancellations without incurring penalties a day or two in advance, so take advantage of that if such conditions arise.

2.) Take a Train
While trains aren’t 100% exempt from winter weather cancellations, they still tend to be a more reliable means of transportation than planes when bad weather hits. Especially for regional travel (think New York City to Boston or Washington, D.C., for example), they tend to be more time efficient as well as you depart and arrive from the city center.

3.) If Delayed or Cancelled, Don’t Get in Line with Everyone Else
When flights are cancelled, most passengers queue up at the ticket counter to be rebooked. Skip the line and turn on your laptop, tablet, or smartphone instead. While everyone else is standing in line for hours, you might be able to rebook yourself in minutes. You can also try making requests via an airline’s Twitter or Facebook account, although this is less effective when thousands of passengers are stranded and using social media. If you are a member of the airline’s frequent-flyer program with elite status, make sure you enter your frequent flyer number at the start of the call (unless your phone number is already recognized by the airline’s system) to ensure your call is routed accordingly. Wait times for Diamonds and Platinums can be mere minutes while non-elites may wait for hours for assistance.

4.) Winterize Your Car
If you plan to drive – be it using your own car or a rental – make sure you have the appropriate tires (in many regions, local laws require winter tires in wintry conditions) on the vehicle before departing, and bring extra supplies. These should include a fully charged mobile phone (don’t forget that external battery pack for the phone), an ice scraper and brush, small shovel, blankets, at least one flashlight, a battery-operated radio, or better still a hand-cranked radio, several bottles of water and a supply of protein bars.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)