Thursday, October 25, 2007

Traveling for Thanksgiving?

It's no secret that Thanksgiving is the most traveled holiday of the year. Roads will be congested with traffic--and so will skies. Flights are almost always oversold during the holidays, and this year is bound to be no different.

What can you do to limit your travel hassles this Thanskgiving? Here are some tips:
  • Consider Amtrak. If you're traveling up or down either coast, it's often very convenient to travel by rail. Train stations are typically located downtown, convenient to mass transit. Trains are rarely oversold, and while they'll certainly be crowded, there's none of the hassle of going through security lines when you take Amtrak. Book now, though, if you expect to get a seat. You won't be the only one to realize the train is a smart idea.

  • Fly early. Very early. Even around the holidays, people don't like to wake up earlier than they have to. Most travelers on the day before Thanksgiving will plan to take afternoon flights. Some will leave around 10:00 a.m. Far fewer will opt for the flight that leaves at 6:30 a.m. That means you should be on that flight, because if there is a problem for any reason, you can get it straightened out before the mob arrives in the afternoon.

  • Limit your luggage. Bags get lost at the airport every day. Want to guess what happens to the odds of your bag being one of them when the amount of baggage increases to four times its usual quantity and the people handling it get extremely bitter about their working conditions? You got it: they go up. Don't pack more than you need--and ideally, fit everything into a carry-on.

  • If you have to be on the road... take off the day before Thanksgiving, and leave in the early morning. You want to be outside of any major cities when rush hour arrives (because there will still be plenty of people who aren't traveling trying to get into work). And this advice applies whether you're driving or taking the bus; remember, buses use the same roads that cars use.
Remember, few problems get better when you ignore them. Plan ahead, travel smart, and have a wonderful time this Thanksgiving. Happy travels!

1 comment:

Mary said...

I remember having to travel from Sweet Briar, VA to Sleepy Hollow, NY for Thanksgiving back when I was in college. I travelled home a bunch of different ways over four years, but the most reliable I found was Greyhound. Sure it was the bus, and it was usually crowded, so that was lame. But it was rarely late, even with traffic and it was the cheapest way to go.

Now, for travelling from city to city, I am a big fan of Amtrak. But outside of the major cities, you run into serious risk of getting trapped behind freight trains. The one time I took Amtrak out of Charlottesville, there was a two and a half hour delay because of freight traffic. No lie. Something to bear in mind the next time you're writing your Representative.

"Dear Congressman, Why must Amtrak be Freight's bitch all the time?"