How To Survive Thanksgiving Travel

A lot of turkey wishbones – and travel records – are set to be broken during the Thanksgiving holiday this year. The following information from this article states,  AAA expects 54.3 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more away from home over the holiday, a 4.8 percent increase over last year and the highest Thanksgiving travel volume since 2005.  For the 48.5 million Americans expected to travel by car over the holiday, the best advice is: leave early. In the most congested cities, the Thanksgiving drive could take four times longer than on a ‘normal’ travel day, predicts INRIX, a mobility analytics company.  Traffic at airports and in the skies will break records as well.  The 12-day Thanksgiving air travel period is already under way, and trade organization Airlines for America predicts a record 30.6 million passengers will fly on U.S. airlines.  That’s up from the estimated 29 million passengers who flew during Thanksgiving last year. The Transportation Security Administration expects to screen 25 million people between Wednesday and Sunday, a 7 percent increase over last year.

 

HOW WEATHER WILL IMPACT TRAVEL

 

The weather will cooperate for a majority of those traveling by road or air for the Thanksgiving holiday, with some exceptions in the northeastern and western United States.  The American Automobile Association (AAA) is projecting that 54.3 million will travel 50 miles or more away from home for the Thanksgiving holiday this year. Even in the absence of disruptive weather, the sheer volume of vehicles on the road in congested metro areas may cause travel time to double, triple or quadruple, according to AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski.  People traveling for the holiday can download the AccuWeather app to find out exactly when the weather could add further slow downs to their journey.

Snowflakes to fly in Northeast

The early taste of winter is expected to continue across the Northeast with batches of snow sweeping through the area and possibly lead to slick travel on occasion in the days leading up to Thanksgiving.  Motorists should prepare for possibly slick and snow-covered portions of interstates 75, 81, 87, 90, 91 and 95 in the days ahead. The greatest disruptions to travel may occur Monday night into Tuesday from portions of Pennsylvania to Maine as a storm takes shape and lays a swath of accumulating snow.  Snow showers will also riddle the eastern Great Lakes and central Appalachians on Tuesday, potentially reducing visibility on the roadways.

Yet another round of snow is expected across parts of the Northeast on Wednesday.  “There is concern that snow squalls could greatly reduce visibility and quickly coat roadways on Wednesday’s busy travel day across the interior Northeast,” according to AccuWeather Meteorologist Steve Travis.

“These squalls may not just be limited to areas downwind of the Great Lakes but may streak eastward to northeastern Pennsylvania and/or the Hudson Valley and western New England.”  These type of weather situations are notorious for causing chain-reaction accidents. Meanwhile in the Midwest, patches of light freezing drizzle may break out later Wednesday and Wednesday night, creating slick patches for motorists, especially on bridges and overpasses.

Rain to dampen travel in southeastern Texas

Travelers in southeastern Texas may contend with reduced visibility and ponding of water on the roadways as downpours cross the area at the start of the week.  “There is the possibility of wet roads and perhaps minor airline delays in Houston,” Sosnowski added. This includes on Monday afternoon, which is the worst time for Thanksgiving travel in the Houston metro area, according to AAA.  A press of drier air will shunt the rainfall southward on Tuesday, leading to a good day for travel along the Interstate 10 corridor from San Antonio to Houston. This dry press may hold firm on Wednesday, with damp conditions likely being held to southern and coastal Texas.

Storm to arrive along West Coast at midweek

Reduced visibility from wildfire smoke will be the main concern for travelers in California on Monday and Tuesday.  However, a pattern change will bring needed rainfall to the state starting on Wednesday. While rain is not normally a welcome idea during busy travel times and near the holiday, any rain with a lack of strong winds would greatly favor firefighting efforts and reduce the risk of new fires igniting, according to Sosnowski.  Despite the good news of rainfall, motorists will face slick roads as oil buildup from weeks of dry weather mixes with the rain. Heavy snow is expected over the Sierra Nevada by the end of Wednesday. Travelers over I-80’s Donner Summit should anticipate snow-covered roads, reduced visibility and possible closures. Rain will also spread into Portland, Oregon, and Seattle at midweek, heightening the risk of minor travel delays.


TRAVEL TIPS FOR THE AIRPORT

As with driving or going anywhere over the holiday, the key advice for flying is: leave for the airport early.  That not only helps reduce stress, but builds in extra time for all those things that can go wrong, such as discovering your favorite airport parking lot is already filled up or there’s a hiccup with your airline ticket.  TSA officials say new screening technologies, coupled with additional canine teams and more than 1,200 more TSA officers will help with the increased volume of passengers at airport security checkpoints this year. But there may still be long, slow-moving lines at many airports.

To make sure you’re not the person holding up the line, take some extra time when prepping and packing to make sure your carry-on items are checkpoint-savvy.  Dress for success: Transfer small items, such as wallets, phones and keys, from your pockets to your carry-on before you get to the checkpoint. Wear shoes or boots that are easy to take off and put back on.  Download and print your boarding pass. Putting your boarding pass on your mobile phone means one less paper to keep track of but a paper version is good back-up in case your phone loses its charge while you’re waiting on a long line, or if the checkpoint scanner can’t read the downloaded version of your pass.  Review the rules. If you’re an infrequent traveler, find a quart-sized clear bag and take a moment to read TSA’s primer on the liquids rule. Charge up your phone and other travel gadgets, including one or more back-up chargers, before you leave home. While airports have added more power ports, finding an empty one can still be a challenge. Show up with a power cord with extra plugs, and you’ll be a hero.  Download the apps for your airline and all airports you’re traveling through and sign up for the alerts for each of your flights. Get numbers. Make a list of all the phone numbers you might need for your trip. The list should include not only your airline, but also the rental car or shuttle company you’ve booked with, your hotel, the person picking you up and the person who dropped you off (in case you left something behind). Put those numbers in your phone and on paper.
Pack extras. Bring along snacks, a hefty amount of patience, and your sense of humor. Add a stash of ‘mad money’ to your wallet. That way, if something goes wrong despite all your planning and preparation, you’ll be able to buy yourself or your family a stress-busting treat.
If you’re traveling with food to eat during your journey or with a turkey or something else destined for the Thanksgiving table, you will likely be asked to take it out of your bag and put it in a separate bin for a ride through the x-ray machine.  TSA allows turkeys, turkey sandwiches, pies, cakes and other baked through the checkpoints, but foodstuffs that are liquid, such as jellies and cranberry sauce, need to travel in checked bags. Unsure if your food is a liquid or gel? TSA’s “What can I bring” tool, available online and as an app, can help – and you can send a question about a specific item to @AskTSA on Twitter.

 

To read more on how to survive Thanksgiving travel, click here.  For more general travel tips, click here.

Best Thanksgiving Destinations

Want to skip the family reunion and opt for a first-class Thanksgiving destination?  We’ve compiled the top places that will make you glad you ditched the traditional Thanksgiving experience.

  1. St. Regis Aspen Resort, Colorado
    At the St. Regis Aspen Resort, you can expect Thanksgiving-themed food and afternoon spent on the slopes or at the spa. At sundown, guests congregate by the front entrance for the ceremonial sundown champagne sabering while there are nightcaps and roasted s’mores at Shadow Mountain Lodge from 9 p.m. until midnight.
  2. MGM Grand Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas
    Las Vegas’s the Park turns into a winter wonderland on the Monday before Thanksgiving, when its first-ever tree lighting ceremony will feature a 60-foot-tall Silver Tip Fir tree adorned with 3,000 holiday ornaments and 13,000 lights, plus 16-foot-tall Ornament Tunnels. After visiting Santa, listening to carolers, and taking a spin on the ice skating rink, guests can pop over to MGM Grand across the street to watch football at TAP with Turkey Sliders or a T-Day Plate with all the fixings, a special Thanksgiving day menu at Michael Mina Pub, or delicacies like oyster foie gras at Iron Chef Masaharu Moritmoto’s spot Morimoto.
  3. Aulani, A Disney Resort and Spa, Hawaii
    A Hawaiian paradise for Disney-lovers of all ages, Aulani has plenty of special Thanksgiving offerings for those fleeing the mainland. Give thanks with seaside dining at Aulani’s restaurant Ama Ama, celebrate with a Hawaiian-style Harvest Feast, live music, and characters in the Kaiona Ballroom, indulge in a Thanksgiving buffet at Makahiki—including oysters, crab claws, green tip mussels, and a poke station—or just grab a quick turkey-lunch to-go before finding your inner kid at the resort’s Rainbow Reef snorkeling experience, one of its two water slides, on the lazy river, or by exploring its awe-inspiring collection (the island’s second largest) of original cultural artifacts.
  4. Blackberry Farm, Walland, Tennessee Located on 4,200 acres in the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee, luxury retreat Blackberry Farm is an ideal place to spend the holidays, with a staggering list of events and offerings for the long weekend. There’s a welcome reception, a performance by composer Jonathan Wolff (best known for the Seinfeld theme song), family bingo, family trivia, a Turkey Trot 5K, a turkey fry tradition of peanut soup and angel biscuits for lunch on the lawn, teen game night, flag football, and, of course, special Thanksgiving dinners in the Barn and in the Dogwood, featuring Blackberry Farm’s renowned gourmet cuisine.
  1. Rancho Valencia Resort & Spa, Rancho Santa Fe, California

Located half an hour north of San Diego, Rancho Valencia Resort and Spa is throwing their first-ever 5K Turkey Trot this year, beginning at 7:30 a.m. on Thanksgiving morning. Later in the day, guests can enjoy a feast over live music at the resort’s signature restaurant Veladora, where executive chef Jarrod Moiles has prepared a buffet with both classic favorites and gourmet alternatives, including roasted pumpkin bisque, chilled seafood, mac and cheese with herb bread crumbs, slow roasted turkey breast, chorizo, and herb stuffing.

Click here for several more amazing Thanksgiving getaways.

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