Homeward Bound and Down
Dreading the upcoming day before Turkey Day drive home? Fretting about that packed cross-country flight the Tuesday before Thanksgiving? Here are 15 tips to help ease the pain of Thanksgiving travel and make everybody’s favorite holiday a little bit more fun in the process.
Before You Go Anywhere, Watch ‘Trains, Planes and Automobiles’
Seeing Del Griffith (John Candy) and Neal Page (Steve Martin) get put through the Thanksgiving travel ringer never gets old. After laughing out loud at their mishaps, you won’t be phased by anything that befalls you during your holiday travels. Heck, you may even be inspired to upgrade your current roster of shower curtain rings.
Check out TSA Pre-Check
Remarkably, the ultimate de-stressing travel tool TSA Pre-Check still remains underutilized by travelers. For approximately $17 a year, this program allows you to essentially bypass lines at security (in October 2018, TSA Pre-Check travelers waited an average of less than 5 minutes) and forgo removing your shoes, laptops and light jackets. Talk about starting out your holiday the right way.
Pick up a Podcast
If you are flying home for the holiday, then you are destined to spend some time sitting around an airport. Instead of watching the talking heads on TV in the terminal or losing yourself in an endless social media scroll, dive into a podcast instead.
Sit back, relax and let the hosts of the podcast take you away to the world of unsolved mysteries, irreverent sports takes or, in the case of the TravelPulse Podcast with Mark Murphy, the place where politics, finance and travel meet. And if you’re driving, podcasts are guaranteed to help the time pass by.
Make the Night Before Thanksgiving Count
Survived a painful, traffic-filled interstate journey or wretched flight to arrive at your destination on Wednesday night? Well, now it’s time to let loose. The night before Thanksgiving is one of the biggest nights of the year at bars and restaurants around America, as seemingly everybody is back in town and looking to throw down for old time’s sake—or to forget about their nightmarish travel day.
Drink Water, Water and More Water
Remember, Thanksgiving travel is a marathon, not a sprint. Well, unless you’re sprinting to catch your flight. Keep hydrated in the air so you can arrive at your destination at 100% and ready to overindulge in food and drink like you are supposed to.
Check Under the Hood
It’s not the sexiest of tips, but before setting off in the car, check the oil and have a thorough gander under the hood. Or better yet, have the car inspected in order to head off looming mechanical failures that could lead to unexpected expenses and stress. If you are renting a car, considering additional insurance for added peace of mind.
After arriving on an overstuffed flight, you certainly don’t want to waste time standing around for an overstuffed bag. So why not pack light and do Thanksgiving with hand luggage only this year? This will also help you from going berserk on Black Friday because you won’t have the room to bring bargains back home with you. (Oh, who are we kidding, just have your Black Friday steals shipped.)
Seek Out Cheap Gas
Instead of being gouged for gas, use an app like Gas Buddy or Waze to find the cheapest gas on your route. Then put that cash towards the aforementioned fun—and travel anguish-reducing—evening out with friends on the night before Thanksgiving.
Go Gobble Gobble Abroad
Do you want the ultimate solution for Thanksgiving stress? Leave the country altogether. Yes, go abroad for the holiday, where you can just flop down and relax. Both the Caribbean and Mexico are fantastic spots to “fly and flop” as the weather is idyllic in November.
If you want to get a kick start on Christmas, then head to Europe to visit the enchanting Christmas markets as many of them start in late November or early December.
Put Your Phone Down
If you are heading home for Thanksgiving, just put the phone down and concentrate on having fun with family and friends. All those “turkey selfies” and pictures of fancy Thanksgiving dinner decorations can be “liked” when you make it back home after the holiday. You’ll never regret spending more quality time with your loved ones than online rabbit holes—and it will lead to a more relaxed holiday.
Do Your Homework
You may know your hometown like the back of your hand, but there’s always something else you could learn about it. Almost every city, town or state has a book or two written about its history and heritage—so why not delve into this on the plane, train or back seat on your way home? Seeing your destination in a new light will add a new twist to Thanksgiving.
Play Turkey Day Tourist
Along the same lines, in between all the feasting and family fun, set some time aside to explore your surroundings. Regardless of where your travels take you, there is sure to be a local tourist website that you can use as a resource. And even if you are just hanging at home, there’s probably one or two attractions or historical sights that you have never experienced before.
Break up the Trip Somewhere New
Instead of doing your holiday road trip all in one shot, break up the journey with a stop somewhere new. Just pick a random dot on the map, and make it your pit stop for the night. Go out for dinner and forget about any stress that may have accumulated during the day. You’ll arrive refreshed and ready to rock the holiday.
Depart at the Right Time
Your journey doesn’t have to be a hassle; if you leave at the right time. Choosing the best time to travel at Thanksgiving will make all the difference between a stressful experience and smooth sailing.
Take Thanksgiving Dinner With You
Anybody can sneak back into the kitchen and raid the fridge on Thanksgiving night, but it takes a real pro to stash some of that bounty away for the ride home. Skip the chaos that is drive-thrus off the interstate at lunchtime for a roadside feast starring a turkey, stuffing and cranberry sauce sandwich.
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