When you think of Thanksgiving, you think of turkey, family, pumpkin pie — and traffic.
Thanksgiving is arguably the busiest travel holiday of the year. According to data from AAA, 48.5 million people hit the roads, skies, rails and waterways in 2018. That's 2.5 million more than the previous year.
With millions of people rushing to meet family and friends, getting from one place to another can be a logistical nightmare. From congested roads to long airport lines, it's hard to plan for the unexpected.
Before you skip town this Thanksgiving, check out our travel tips and tricks below to help you survive the year's busiest travel weekend while spending less money and getting through lines faster.
Save time and skip the long airport security lines by enrolling in TSA Pre✓®. Not only do you avoid long security lines, but you also get to keep your shoes on, and you don't have to deal with taking off belts and light jackets.
According to the TSA, 93 percent of TSA Pre✓® passengers waited less than 5 minutes in airport security lines, leaving you more time to enjoy a pre-holiday drink at the airport bar or extra time for packing!
Enrolling in the TSA Pre✓® program is also easy to do. Once you apply online, you have a 10-minute, in-person background check and fingerprinting, and you're good to go. Get signed up by following the simple steps on the TSA website.
The entire week of Thanksgiving will be hectic for travel, but there are a few recommended travel days to avoid the day-before-Thanksgiving rush. Rather than sit in bumper to bumper traffic or paying an arm and a leg for airline tickets, SmarterTravel recommends traveling on:
What days do you want to avoid? SmarterTravel recommends:
If your schedule doesn't allow for a late departure, consider traveling home on Thanksgiving evening or Friday, Nov. 29. While Friday is still a busy travel day, SmarterTravel says that it only accounts for 12 percent of travel bookings, as opposed to Saturday (31 percent) and Sunday (57 percent).
The sooner you can book your flights, the better. Even just three weeks ahead can help you cut down on costs, according to ARC & Expedia Group's Travel Pricing Outlook in 2019. But don't just pick any day to book your flight.
Contrary to popular belief, the weekend is the most economical time to book flights. The travel pricing report found that travelers can save anywhere from 20 to 36 percent by booking on a Sunday. In contrast, the most expensive tickets tend to be booked later during the week on Thursdays and Fridays.
Avoid the crowded roads and skies and travel by train. Amtrak travels from coast to coast with sleeping accommodations available for those who are traveling overnight. Traveling on the railroad not only saves you money on gas and airfare, but it also gives you time to sit back, relax and enjoy the scenery as you ride toward your destination.
Even better, you don't have to leave your sweater collection or favorite gravy behind, as Amtrak allows passengers to bring two 50-pound bags for free.
If you're traveling with kids, note that Amtrak offers a 50 percent discount on the lowest available adult rail fare for children ages 2 to 12, making this more economical, as well.
If you won't be staying at your family or friend's home this holiday, consider both hotels and rentals. When comparing prices, keep in mind the differences between the two options, which could dictate which is best for your Thanksgiving travel, according to MoneyUnder30:
Don't spend your hard-earned vacation time sitting in traffic and cleaning out your bank account on travel costs. Survive the holiday hustle and bustle and spend more quality time with family and friends using these travel tips and tricks.