Thanksgiving travel is pretty easy for our family, that is, unless we get stuck in traffic. Our travel plans for Thanksgiving typically involve a few hour roadtrip, or we host Thanksgiving turkey dinner at our house. Many of our friends and colleagues head out of town to battle the crowded airports and long flight delays that typically plague Thanksgiving weekend and I’ve learned a lot from them.  Whether you travel by train, plane or automobile to grandma’s house, here are HipTravelMama’s top 5 tips for staying sane traveling with kids for Thanksgiving weekend.

  1. Know when to travel: A Wednesday departure and Sunday return are the most popular and busiest Thanksgiving travel days. To avoid the crowds, leave late on Tuesday evening, return on Friday and have the weekend to enjoy some quality time with your spouse and your kids.
  2. Check traffic on the go: A large majority of people travel by car to see their families for Thanksgiving dinner. One little trick we’ve learned over the years on many road trips home is always check traffic on mobile apps from Google maps or Bing maps and map out your route before you go and as you travel. We use our handy Bing and Google iPhone apps to check traffic around the typical slow points in our journey as we travel. If you can see there is a traffic jam up ahead, stop for ice cream, coffee, or a potty break and make it fun. Allow plenty of time to get there.
  3. Fly off-peak days and times: According to airfare experts including Bing Travel’s Holiday Forecast and Rick Seaney, CEO of Farecompare, travel on the cheapest days and times to fly – generally midweek and off-hours.  Also consider flying on Thanksgiving day and get there just in time for dinner. Avoid the “peak travel day” airline surcharges. Farecompare has a great airline surcharge chart to find which days have the cheapest surcharges and which days to avoid.
  4. Bring your iPad:  I can’t say enough great things about this handy little device when traveling with kids. With a 10 hour battery life, endless options for movies, educational games, books and entertainment, (as well as a laptop alternative for mom and dad if they have to work,) it is worth the splurge if you do a lot of traveling.
  5. Give thanks: It’s easy to get caught up in the little annoyances and stresses of the holidays, especially when traveling with kids. Don’t forget to stop, relax and remember that you have a lot to be thankful for. On the road, in the airport, or on the plane, have each family member make a list of things they are thankful for this year and suddenly it will put your whole trip into a much different perspective.

For more great Thanksgiving travel advice from my family travel expert friends, head on over to BestFamilyTravelAdvice.com.

 Safe Travels.

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