10/10/2015 12:24 EDT | Updated 10/10/2016 05:12 EDT

9 Dos and Don'ts of Thanksgiving Travel

Travel can be stressful at any given time of the year, but travelling over a holiday can be particularly nerve-wracking. If you're going away this Thanksgiving, is here to make the process easier. Here are nine dos and don'ts to consider before you pack your bags.

Do allow for extra time


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Let's face it, holidays are busy times for travel, and Thanksgiving is no exception. No matter where you're going or what your method of travel is going to be, make sure to give yourself more time than you think you'll need to accommodate for everything from potential delays and heavy traffic, to any number of other little things that can go wrong when you have somewhere to be.

Don't overpack


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Whether you're travelling this Thanksgiving for a turkey-free beach vacation in Cancun or to see family and friends, do your best not to over pack. The majority of airlines charge for checked baggage and at an average of $20 to $25 per bag that adds up, especially if you're travelling as a family. Not to mention, if you don't check bags you don't have to deal with waiting at baggage claim, which means you'll be able to leave the airport faster.

Do adjust your attitude


Image: Jelene Morris,Keep calm and carry on via Flickr CC BY 2.0

As we've mentioned, travelling over Thanksgiving is hectic, which can lead to all kinds of stress and mishaps. Do your best to keep your cool when dealing with any setbacks or frustrating situations. Freaking out never solves anything and usually makes any undesirable situation worse. Smile, take a few deep breaths, work on finding humour in every situation and remember that everyone is trying to get somewhere for Thanksgiving.

Don't forget to check your airline's policies


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Start your Thanksgiving vacation off on the right foot by making sure you aren't faced with any surprises. Before you even start packing, do some research so you know your airline's policies. How early do you need to check in? What's the cut-off time for checking in? What happens if you miss your flight? How much baggage are you allowed and what extra costs should you be prepared for? The more information you can arm yourself with, the easier your travel experience will be.

Do bring entertainment and charge your devices


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Arriving at your destination is exciting, but getting there can often feel tedious so make sure you have a few things to occupy your time. Books, Sudoku, crosswords and of course, music and movies can alleviate boredom, especially if travel delays crop up. It's a good idea to have a mix of electronic and non-electronic distractions in case you can't use your gadgets or they lose power. Speaking of those gadgets, make sure you charge them all the night before you leave. There's nothing worse than looking forward to listening to music or playing a few games and realizing your iPad is about to die, or having to tell your kids they can't watch a show because the laptop has no power.

Don't forget to pack snacks


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We've all eaten airport food and while it is steadily improving in many cities, it's still expensive for what you're getting. And depending on where you are, pickings can still be pretty slim. Avoid being disappointed by a $7 stale muffin by packing your own simple snacks like granola bars, packages of dried fruit and trail mix, and other items that are sealed and easy to pack.

Do prepare for crowds

The airport over Thanksgiving weekend can often be a zoo. Long lines to check in, check bags and going through security can be a nightmare, especially if you cut things close time-wise. If you're flying internationally, it's especially important to get to the airport earlier than you normally would if you were travelling on a non-holiday days to anticpate for the crowds. Crowded airports often mean full flights, too, so be sure to considerate of your flight neighbours.

Don't travel on the busiest days


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Whether you're taking to the road or the skies, the busiest Thanksgiving travel days are going to be the Friday before and the Tuesday after the holiday Monday. If you can swing it, try to travel outside of those dates. You'll deal with less travel stress and maybe even save a few dollars on flights, bus or train ticket, car rentals and even hotels.

Do consider alternate locations


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The Thanksgiving long weekend is a very popular time to go on vacation. In order to save money and avoid crowds, you might want to consider skipping the more popular destinations and opting for an alternate. Some alternatives to consider include swapping Miami or Orlando for St. Augustine, which is full of charm, history and quaint shops, as well as offering almost 70 kilometres of beach. Instead of the Big Apple, consider laid back Austin, Texas or opt for Quebec City for some European flavour. Rather than Los Angeles, head to Palm Springs for great food, hiking and mid-century modern architecture.


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