Turkey trotting. Turkey stuffing. Turkey sculpture. Thanksgiving traditions bring us together — and this year, many people will meet loved ones they couldn’t celebrate in 2020.
But returning to vacation travel can also mean a return to the stress that comes with it. To help, I’ve put together six tips that can ease the potential stresses associated with traveling during the busy holiday season.
1. Travel on non-peak days
According to recent TripIt data, the busiest days for Thanksgiving flight departures will be the Friday (14% of departing flights), Saturday (15%), Tuesday (16%), and Wednesday (17%) before Thanksgiving — making the Sunday, Monday, and Day holiday Thanksgiving itself is the most desirable day to travel if you’re looking to avoid crowds.
Read more: TripIt data: Thanksgiving 2021 nearly triple travel volumes 2020
2. Advance planning for long lines in airport security
Recent data from TripIt also shows that some airports will be busier than others for Thanksgiving travel. If you’re planning to fly to, through or from one of these airports, you’ll need to plan ahead for long lines and crowds:
- San Francisco International Airport (SFO)
- Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)
- Denver International Airport (DEN)
- Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA)
- Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD)
- Boston Logan Airport (BOS)
- John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK)
- Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport (DFW)
- Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL)
- Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR)
How do you plan for the future exactly? By subscribing to a Quick Check for Beginners Program. While some travelers choose TSA PreCheck and others for CLEAR, both programs help you navigate your travel journey more quickly. As you prepare for the busy holiday travel season, you may find that one program is better than another, or that its complementary benefits make your life easier on the road.
Read more: TSA pre-screening, CLEAR, or both? A guide to help you decide
Also, once you arrive at the airport, check current security wait times via TripIt Security Wait Times (for select airports) or the My TSA app so you know which inspection line is the shortest.
3. Learn how to easily navigate to your portal (and more)
Are you flying to, through or from an unfamiliar airport? You can use our interactive airport maps to easily navigate from a security checkpoint to your gate, get directions from gate to gate to connect, or research how to get to countless other points of interest.
For example, take the guesswork out of whether you can get a meal (or a book, or a drink) before your flight or during your layover by searching for restaurants or shops directly on the airport map.
You can also search interactive airport maps to find information about on-site amenities related to health and safety as well. For available airports, TripIt Pro users can search interactive maps of the locations of COVID-19 testing sites, stores selling face coverings, hand sanitizer stations, and personal protective equipment (PPE) vending machines – all in the app.
Interactive airport maps are available to TripIt Pro users of more than 105 global airports.
Supplementary reading: Remember hopping at the airport? These tips and tools can help
4. Reconfirm your rental car reservation
If you’ve ever rented a car during 2021, you’ll likely be aware of the rental car shortages and price hikes that have rocked the United States this year. And Thanksgiving could be no different.
According to TripIt data, Thanksgiving car rental bookings have increased 400% compared to last year.
So, that’s your goal to give your car rental provider a friendly check-in call about your reservation—just. In case. Especially if you’re renting a car at any of the top 10 car rental destinations this Thanksgiving: Phoenix, Orlando, Kahului, Las Vegas, Honolulu, Denver, Los Angeles, Tampa, Chicago, and San Francisco — respectively.
5. Understand the level of risk before your trip
If you’re heading to an unfamiliar vacation destination, you can better understand potential risk factors for travelers, including those related to your health, as well as those related to political turmoil, environmental conditions, and more, with TripIt’s Neighborhood Safety Scores.
TripIt displays safety scores for a variety of neighborhoods around the world. This information is available in the Neighborhood Safety Findings section within each TripIt itinerary location with an address.
To help you make the best decisions for you while you travel, and to better understand the areas you’re traveling in, you can also set your personal risk level under Neighborhood Safety Score. Then, TripIt will warn you if you plan to visit an area that exceeds your limit.
6. Create a game plan in case you get stuck at the airport
Getting stuck at the airport is always annoying, but it especially happens when you’re traveling during the holidays. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to reduce the amount of time you spend stuck in — and act according to what’s under your control.
- Contact the airline. If you are stuck at the airport on a busy holiday, the first thing you should do is contact your airline. As soon as you hear that your flight has been canceled or significantly delayed, immediately queue up at the ticket counter to see if they can book another flight. Next, call the airline’s customer service number while you’re standing in line. You can also refer to TripIt Pro’s alternative flights feature to see what options are available to you for a different flight. Professional members can search for alternate flights directly in the Pro Center.
- Learn about the benefits of your travel credit card. If you book your trip with a travel credit card, you may be eligible for travel protection benefits. (Hint: now is the time to double-check what your card provider has to offer.) These benefits can help offset some of the costs you may incur while at the airport.
- Find a lounge nearby. For elite members, you probably already know where to go. For those who use credit cards for travel, this is a good time to pull up the Priority Pass app on your phone (or head to their mobile site) to find a lounge you may already have access to. For those travelers who do not have elite status or Priority Pass membership, there is no need to worry. You can usually buy a one-day pass (or even a membership) at the entrance to the lounge.
With these tips, you can better prepare for some of the busiest travel days of the year—and with a little luck, you can get on time to the turkey trot start line, the turkey carving kitchen, or both.