The Thanksgiving holiday certainly ranks as one of the busiest travel times of the year. With a little planning, however, the stress level can be significantly reduced.
According to the American Automobile Association, 43.6 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more this holiday. That’s a slight increase from last year when 43.3 million hit the road.
AAA says this increase marks the fourth consecutive year of growing holiday travelers since 2008 when Thanksgiving travel fell by 25 percent.
Ninety percent of travelers or 39.1 million will travel by automobile, AAA says. Holiday air travel to decline to 3.14 million travelers from 3.2 million in 2011.
Still, that’s a lot of people on the roads and at the airports. Of the nation’s airports, business travelers rank these as the busiest and most stressful: Chicago O’Hare International; Los Angeles International; John F. Kennedy International; Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International; New York’s LaGuardia; Dallas-Fort Worth International; Newark Liberty International; George Bush Houston Intercontinental; San Francisco International; Miami International; Washington Dulles International; Charlotte/Douglas International; Philadelphia International; Orlando International; Boston Logan International; Las Vegas McCarran International.
Not surprisingly the most stressful locations — including Chicago O’Hare and Los Angeles International Airport — will be among the busiest this week during the peak Thanksgiving holiday travel period.
Experts and travelers agree one of the biggest stress-inducing factors is the distance between gates for connecting flights. Others say long lines at security induce the most stress.
So, what’s the best way to get through with as little stress as possible? Experts offer some helpful hints:
- Scope the lines and try to identify the ones moving the fastest
- Wear slip-on shoes
- Use the “My TSA” app that details what you can and cannot take on the plane (hint, Thanksgiving gravy is NOT allowed)
- Begin taking off jackets and shoes 5-to-8 people before you reach the tubs; have your laptop ready to be inspected
- Avoid lines where you see baby carriages or young children
According to the TSA, the “My TSA” app has multiple functions, including the following features:
- Airport Status: Users can see what airports are experiencing general delays (not flight specific) or search for conditions at a specific airport. This information is provided by the FAA.
- ‘Can I Bring?’: Users can type in an item they plan to bring on a trip to find out if it is permitted or prohibited, and whether they can pack it in carry-on or checked bags.
- Guide: Users can get travel tips on an array of some of the most popular topics of air travel, including traveling with children, 3-1-1 rules for liquids, gels and aerosols, special medical needs, packing tips, tips for how to dress for airport security, tips for military members, and traveling with food and gifts.
- Security wait times: My TSA gives passengers the ability to share their wait time and see what wait times other passengers have posted for U.S. airports.
- Videos directly from TSA’s official YouTube page. See videos from the Ad Council on TSA’s “Why?” campaign including videos on our Advanced Imaging Technology.
- Weather: NOAA’s National Weather Service current weather and seven day forecast.
- Airport On-Time performance statistics from the Bureau of Transportation Statistics.
For those traveling by automobile, the Red Cross offers these tips:
- Make sure the vehicle is in good working order.
- Start out with a full tank of gas, check the tire air pressure and make sure the windshield fluid is full.
- Buckle up, slow down, don’t drive impaired. Designate a driver who won’t drink.
- Be well rested and alert.
- Use caution in work zones.
- Give one’s full attention to the road. Avoid distractions such as cell phones.
- Observe speed limits – driving too fast or too slow can increase the chance of being in a collision.
- Make frequent stops. During long trips, rotate drivers. If the driver is tired, stop and get some rest.
- Be respectful of other motorists and follow the rules of the road.
- Don’t follow another vehicle too closely.
- Clean the vehicle’s headlights, taillights, signal lights and windows.
- Turn the headlights on as dusk approaches, or if using windshield wipers due to inclement weather.
- Don’t overdrive the headlights.
- If car trouble develops, pull off the road as far as possible.
- It’s also recommended to keep an emergency preparedness kit in the vehicle. Useful items include water, snacks, a flashlight, first aid kit, extra cash and blankets. Red Cross Emergency Preparedness kits are available in the Red Cross Store.