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.

What Are The Cheapest Times to Fly?

We asked the airfare expert: What are the cheapest times to fly?  The time of year you fly matters. Just ask anyone who’s traveled the same route at Thanksgiving vs. any other time of the year and they’ll tell you stories about November holiday fares costing three, four or five times the usual rate. The days of the week you fly matter, too, and it matters year-round.  For U.S. domestic flights, the cheapest days to fly are usually Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays. For flights to Europe, weekdays tend to be cheaper than weekends. These examples show round-trip fares for travel in June. You can’t always save a third to half-off on airfare as the following examples show by flying the cheapest days but you can usually save something. Try juggling different dates to find the best/cheapest combination. The first step for all airfare shoppers is to compare prices on your route on your preferred dates, then try different day-of-week combinations to see how much you can bring them down. Don’t pass up any savings; you can put those funds to much better use during your vacation.  Also, air fare to Europe are currently at historic lows. If you were thinking of going abroad, this might be the perfect time, but why not save every last dollar you’re entitled to by flying the cheapest days of the week? Check out the examples below:

Boston-Las Vegas
Fly Friday/Sunday: $500
Fly Saturday/Wednesday: $228

Boston-Miami
Fly Thursday/Sunday: $312
Fly Saturday/Saturday: $203

Denver-Seattle
Fly Friday/Sunday: $391
Fly Saturday/Wednesday: $341
Fly Saturday/Tuesday: $333

New York-Paris
Fly Saturday/Sunday: $548
Fly Monday/Tuesday: $470

Check out cheapair.com for more deals!

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The Easiest Travel Hack

This biggest complaint regarding air travel is the delicate and time-consuming trek through security which is why we want to share this simple travel hack.  It’s stressful and annoying and frankly, seems unfair that something outside of your control could affect your travel so much.  During just one week in March, nearly 6,800 American Airline passengers missed their flights due to these checkpoints alone. We have found the best way to SIGNIFICANTLY cut down the time it takes you to get through.  Anyone can take advantage of this hack but if you are an avid traveler for business or pleasure, you especially need to read on.

We found that the rate of people who are signing up for TSA Precheck by IdentoGO is quickly rising as the word spreads.  With TSA Precheck, trusted travelers can leave their shoes, belts, and jackets on, and keep their liquids and laptops in their bag as it gets scanned. It eliminates the stress, and the hassle and makes the process much faster, too. This past April, 92% of travelers with TSA Precheck waited less than 5 minutes. FIVE MINUTES!  That’s a lot less than the regular line and surely prevented several missed flights.

The best part is that TSA Precheck lasts 5 full years, but it only takes about 15 minutes to get signed up. All you have to do is fill out a form online to start your application, and visit an office near you to give your fingerprints. No need to go all the way to the airport—unless you live near one and it’s more convenient for you. It only costs $85 for 5 full years. That’s only $17 a year! And if you have kids under 12, they’re free.  Fast, convenient, and affordable, it’s the easiest travel hack out there yet many don’t take advantage of it. Do yourself a favor and sign up today!

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Travel Tips to Save Money

These simple travel tips will help everyone save money from the newbie traveler to the seasoned explorer no matter your budget.  It’s happened to every one of us, you might just not know it.  Same room, same property, but you paid $100-$1000 more and you didn’t even know it.  What’s the difference?  Maybe only a few days.  Maybe it was the method in which you booked.  Read on to hone in on some of the best tricks of the trade in hotel booking.

  1. Don’t Only Search By Price

The hotel offering the lowest price doesn’t necessarily mean you’re getting the best deal.  There are usually hidden fees and inclusions that add up to more value than another property.  For example, is the WiFi free?  Does the property offer a continental breakfast in the morning?  Paying for those two items alone may place your payment above another property’s.

Bottom Line: read the fine print.

  1. Be Patient and Hunt Flash Sales

There are several periods throughout the year when the property you are eyeing will offer flash sales for you ton score discounted hotel rooms.  For example, Expedia.com offers discounts up to 30% on its mobile app.  Individual hotels offer frequent discounts on their social media sites as well.

Bottom Line: stalk that hotel

  1. Loyalty Programs Pay Off

Many properties reward those who keep coming back.  Hilton Honors, Marriott Rewards….the number of programs are as endless as the number of hotels.  Sign up with a hotel you have been happy with in the past and make it a point to revisit it next trip.  Special rates can add up!

Bottom Line: stay loyal

  1. Utilize a Travel Agent

Travel agents affiliated with large agencies have pre-negotiated preferred rates with tons of hotels and resorts.  They can help to find the best deals and many times even upgrade your room or get you beverage credits. And did you know that typically, using a travel agent is FREE?!?!  What’s there to lose?

Bottom Line: ask an expert

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