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November 9, 2023

Thanksgiving Travel Tips: Guide to Travel for Thanksgiving

Whether you’re flying across the country or driving down the interstate, planning is key to stress-free travel for Thanksgiving. Here are some essential Thanksgiving travel tips, including where to eat, the best travel days and how to navigate it all with ease.

mini van driving away Sunny Autumn Country Drive through fall leaves and trees

What Are the Busiest Travel Days for Thanksgiving?

The busiest travel days Thanksgiving has to offer typically fall on the Wednesday before and the Sunday after the holiday. Fortunately, there are a few days when the crowds of travelers are thin. In fact, Thanksgiving Day itself is actually the least crowded day to travel.

So, if you’re deciding which day to arrive, you could opt for the morning of Thanksgiving or 2-plus days before it. The least crowded departure date would likely be the Saturday after Thanksgiving, as anyone who extended their stay through the weekend may be returning on Sunday so they’re back in time for work on Monday. Thanks to Black Friday shopping and sales, there’s probably a decent amount of people choosing to stay until Sunday, so Friday may not be a bad travel day either. 

Delays are almost inevitable during the busiest travel days of the Thanksgiving season. Anticipate this by allowing extra time for travel to and from the airport, as well as through security lines. If you’re driving, consider alternate routes or back roads to avoid the worst of the traffic jams.

Thanksgiving Travel Tips

Anticipating (and avoiding) busy travel days is one of the best tips, but it’s not the only thing to keep in mind. Here are some additional tips to make travel for Thanksgiving go smoothly. 

1. Strategic Accommodation Planning

Finding a centrally located hotel can make all the difference in your holiday experience. Look for a place that’s close to your family’s gathering spot as well as any attractions you might want to visit. This strategic positioning saves you time and hassle, allowing you to immerse yourself in the festivities without the burden of long commutes.

A central location also offers the flexibility to retreat to your room for some rest between activities or to drop off shopping bags and leftovers. This is especially crucial if you’re planning a longer visit and need an extended-stay hotel.

Young asian woman packing her suitcases in the trunk of her car before going on a road trip to her holiday vacation

2. Figure Out Logistics Before You Leave

Before you set off, take a moment to consider the logistics of your journey. Will you need to rent a car once you land, or are there shuttle services provided by your hotel? If you’re flying, arrange airport pickups in advance to avoid the last-minute scramble and potentially long waits for taxis or rideshares.

For those going the road trip route, take a look at how many miles your journey will be and estimate the cost of gas or identify charging locations. Apps and websites can provide an accurate read based on current prices and your vehicle’s mileage. Remember to factor in the possibility of traffic delays, which could lead to increased fuel consumption.

Additionally, consider the convenience of parking options at your destination. If you’re staying at a hotel, inquire about parking availability and fees. This could influence your decision to rent a car or use alternative transportation methods. 

3. Look Up Thanksgiving Events in the Area

Many cities host Thanksgiving parades, markets and other fall festivities that can add a special touch to your holiday experience. Check local event calendars to see what’s happening around the area in which you are staying. Participating in these events can create new traditions and fun memories for your family. 

4. Put Extra Thought Into Your Packing List

When packing for your travels, keep in mind that the weather can be unpredictable. You’ll want to be prepared for anything from a warm spell to a sudden cold front. Additionally, pack strategically to avoid hefty baggage fees and ensure you have room for any holiday shopping or leftovers you might bring back with you.

You’ve probably got the basics like clothes and toiletries covered, but Thanksgiving travel often comes with its own unique set of things to pack. These could include compact cooking appliances, a cooler, food storage containers to bring leftovers home, etc. 

Traveling with children also requires extra planning. Pack a bag of games, activities and snacks to keep them occupied during long car rides or flights. Similar accommodations will need to be made if you’re traveling with pets, too.

5. Prep Your Home for Your Absence

Before you embark on your travel for Thanksgiving, ensure your home is secure. Always double-check that all doors and windows are locked, and appliances are unplugged. It’s also a good idea to make a neighbor or nearby friend aware of your absence. This preparation can give you peace of mind while you’re away, allowing you to enjoy your holiday fully.

Traveling by airplane. Man waiting in airport terminal. Selective focus on hand holding suitcase against arrival and departure board.

6. Embrace Technology for a Smoother Journey

Leverage technology to streamline your travel experience. Use apps to check in to flights, monitor traffic conditions, and even find the best gas prices. Digital tools can also help you locate the best places to eat and stay, often complete with reviews to guide your choices.

Enjoy Every Moment of Your Thanksgiving Travel

At The Hotel at Arundel Preserve, we believe your holiday should be filled with relaxation and joy. Let us take care of the details while you focus on what truly matters: creating lasting memories with your loved ones.

With our prime location, exceptional dining and insider travel tips, we’re confident your experience with us will make your holiday extra special. Contact us today to book your Thanksgiving stay!

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