The exhaustion, the hopelessness, the endless gate change announcements — traveling for Thanksgiving is not for the faint of heart. But for some of us, it’s impossible to avoid. Just remember, an enormous quantity of food awaits you on the other end of your trip. You can do this!
To help you get through it, we spoke to an expert about what you can do to make your travels a little easier. Jeanenne Tornatore, a senior editor at Orbitz, gave us a list of pointers to get through the day, and even maybe get an edge on your fellow desperate travelers.
1. Punctuality pays
Sure, we’ve all played fast and loose with that whole “get there two hours early” rule, but this is not the time for that kind of shenanigans.
“TSA, they’re great at what they do, but the lines are just going to be longer and maybe a little bit slower the day before the holiday,” says Tornatore. She also pointed out that this is a time of year when people who don’t travel often take flights. So even if you can shed your shoes and laptop in five seconds flat for the security checkpoint, your fellow travelers will probably be a bit slower.
2. Prepare like a Boy Scout
Step one: Print out your boarding pass at home. Showing up with your boarding pass in hand will save you from the crowds huddled around those little kiosks. Tornatore also recommends looking online ahead of time to learn where things are in the airport.
“It’s always good to know what’s available, whether you’re trying to entertain your kids, or you’re going to be there over mealtimes and you’re looking for something to eat.”
3. Be a power packer
Let’s be honest: The chances of delays are kind of high this time of year. “Make sure to pack any necessities that you would really need in a 24-hour period in a carry-on bag. Things like phone charges, contact solution and case, any medications, stuff that you would need for your kids,” says Tornatore.
You’ll be glad you did if you get stranded or delayed. The airport is just the sort of place where it’s OK to give up on wearing your contacts for once. Embrace looking like you stayed home sick!
4. Charge it up
Pack your cell phone charger, then pack a few more chargers, especially if you have kids. You don’t want any fights over devices, and having dead batteries is a recipe for disaster.
“I think your smartphone, especially now, really becomes your lifeline when you have delays and cancellations,” says Tornatore.
She also pointed out how useful apps can be at a time like this for keeping on top of itinerary changes. Orbitz has one, of course, but you can find a few options, all of which will do things like text whoever is picking you up at your destination to let them know you are, inevitably, still stranded at Newark airport.
5. Gain the edge
And for that worst moment of all, when a flight cancellation occurs? Have your airline’s number stored in your phone. Everyone at your gate is going to bolt for the service desk to try and rebook. “You walk over with them, but you get on the phone and dial that number because you might get somebody quicker on the phone that can actually get you one of the few seats left on the flights for that day,” says Tornatore. Victory (and pumpkin pie) will soon be yours!