Thanksgiving travel is one of the most stressful, delay-ridden, all-around-awful travel experiences known to mankind.
That may be an overstatement, but we really don’t think so.
As much as 7% of the US population travels over Thanksgiving weekend. And that number doesn’t even take into account the people who jam up traffic driving across town to friend’s and family member’s homes on Thanksgiving day. If you’re traveling across state or country lines for turkey day, here are a few tips to help you make your travel during Thanksgiving as low stress and inexpensive as possible:
- Plane tickets are notoriously expensive around Thanksgiving. You can help cut costs by taking the time to make your travel plans well in advance. Most Americans wait until November rolls around to make their travel plans, which costs them money. If you book more than two months in advance, you can save an average of 14% on your travel itinerary. Of course, this advice is a bit late this year, but you still have time to save. Travel prices tend to remain constant up until 10 days before Thanksgiving, when prices start to spike. Make your travel plans in the beginning of November, and you’ll be sure to save some cash.
- Airports are jam-packed around Thanksgiving, so if you can come up with a different way to get to your holiday destination, do it. Buses and trains can make a cheaper and sometimes faster alternative to the hassle of flying.
- If you do have to fly, be sure to get to the airport early, as check-in and security lines will likely be much longer than usual. You should also be ready for significant delays, particularly if the weather isn’t looking great this Thanksgiving weekend. Pack a deck of cards, some extra snacks, and perhaps even a change of clothes in case your flight gets substantially delayed.
- Pack light. One simple way to reduce costs and make your travel less time-consuming is by forgoing a checked bag at the airport. If you can fit everything you need for the weekend into a carry-on suitcase, you can save yourself the hassle of waiting around at baggage claim and save as much as $75 per checked bag.
- If you can get a few extra days off for Thanksgiving, you may be able to avoid the crowds altogether. Try to fly Tuesday morning rather than Wednesday evening or Thursday morning in order to get to your holiday destination. And avoid coming back Sunday night if at all possible.
- If you’re traveling internationally this Thanksgiving season, make sure that your passports are up to date now and that you have any travel visas that you might need. Swift can help expedite your passport renewal and get your travel visas in as little as one business day, depending on where you’re going.
Rob Lee is co-founder of Swift Passport and Visa Services. Originally from Michigan, Rob is an avid fisherman and SCUBA diver who enjoys adventure travel.