Don’t get us wrong, we love the holidays. But there’s nothing more stressful than traveling over Thanksgiving (aside from dinner with the in-laws, that is). Here, nine coping strategies for keeping your sanity.
1. Don’t Get Stuck in Traffic
The Wednesday before Thanksgiving is one of the biggest driving days of the year. Leave early (before 4 p.m. if possible) and use the crowdsourcing app Waze for real-time traffic updates. Not only does it gauge the fastest route based on other drivers’ velocities, it’ll also alert you of accidents, cops and speed traps along the way.
2. Get TSA PreCheck
Consider TSA Precheck, or better yet, get Global Entry if you’re a frequent international flier—it’s only $15 more for expanded benefits. Either way, make sure you add your known traveler number when you’re booking your flight to ensure that you’ll end up in the expedited security lanes wherever available.
3. Prepare for Delays
Roughly one in five flights was delayed last November, according to the Department of Transportation. If you want to relay up-to-the-minute information about your ETA to anyone else (say, your parents who are picking you up at the airport), forward your flight confirmation to firstname.lastname@example.org and you can have updates automatically sent to family or friends via Kayak’s app. You’ll find the smart feature under the “My Trips” tab.
4. Or Get Paid for Delays
Berkshire Hathaway’s AirCare service is like travel insurance just for the “getting there” part: for as little as $34 per domestic flight, the company will replace lost luggage, rebook missed connections, and pay you up to $1,000 for delays. Really!
5. Buy Access to the Airport Lounge
If you’re used to flying over the holidays, you know how crowded an airport terminal can get on peak days. Beat the madness by going the VIP route: even if you’re not paying for a business class ticket, you can usually buy your way into a lounge for as little as $25 or $50. Locate the best options with the help of the LoungeBuddy app, which tells you where to find lounges in your terminal, what they cost, and what kinds of amenities they offer (the ubiquitous WiFi and charging stations are worth it alone).
6. Stay Healthy
Ahead of a flight or road trip, make sure you stay hydrated, load up on Vitamin C, and stash a couple of Cold-Eeze or Emergen-C in your carry-on. Where airport meals and in-flight snacks are concerned, steer clear of fast food, and focus instead on nutritious options like nuts and fruit to keep your immune system strong.
7. Get Out of the House
Just because the holiday is about togetherness doesn’t mean you have to spend every minute with mom. Foursquare has become invaluable for finding worthwhile places to eat, shop, and see, especially in smaller cities. Use it to feel like a traveler in your hometown—or as an excuse to break away from family drama.
8. Leave Your Pets in Good Hands
Finding a pet-sitter over the holidays is a real challenge—your walker deserves to go home for Thanksgiving, too! For that, there’s DogVacay, an invaluable resource for finding pet-lovers in your area who are sticking around and are vetted to lend a helping hand. Plus, you’ll likely pay less than you would at a kennel.
9. Keep Your Fitness Routine
You’ll enjoy the pumpkin pie a whole lot more if you don’t have to worry about fitting into your jeans all winter—and for that, there’s ClassPass. The service lets you pay a flat monthly fee for all-you-can-sweat access to local fitness studios (everything from spin to barre to pilates). The best part: you can sign up for nationwide access so you never have to miss a gym date on the road.
—JetSetter Travel Tips
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This article was originally published by JetSetter under the headline Last Minute Thanksgiving Travel Tips. It is reprinted here with permission.