Thanksgiving is one of our favorite holidays (what's better than being thankful and enjoying good food), but the days leading up to it can be quite hectic. If you're staying home this Thanksgiving, you'll save yourself the chaos of traveling during one of the busiest times of the year. If you're like most of us though, you're heading somewhere for Thanksgiving. There are steps you can take to make your travel more enjoyable.
According to AAA, this Thanksgiving is going to be the second busiest since AAA started tracking travelers. In the Boston area, Wednesday from 4:30-6:30 will be the worst time to be on the road.
1. It's the most obvious tip but it still holds: give yourself plenty of time! Even if you're traveling during a less busy time or don't think your in-laws will be upset with you if you arrive a little late, giving yourself extra time to get stuck in traffic, get lost, or run back to the house because you forgot your phone charger, will make the journey a lot less stressful. If you're heading to the airport, you should give yourself two hours for a domestic flight and three hours for an international flight. If you're traveling with children, have a disability, or think you'll need more time to check a ton of luggage, consider giving yourself even more time. Make sure you realize what time your flight actually boards. It is not the time your flight takes-off.
2. Don't forget about entertainment. Use audiobooks, podcasts, movies, and etc. to your advantage. Ask your friends what good podcasts they've listened to recently or check out an audiobook from the library. Traveling with kids? Download a new movie for them to enjoy in case you unexpectedly run into a delay at the airport. If you're going by car, download multiple movies or see if your library has audiobooks for children.
3. MassPort wants you alert, so take advantage of their free caffeine. Free coffee will be served at the eighteen MassDOT service plazas Thanksgiving night, from 10 pm through 5 am on Friday morning.
4. Use travel apps and websites. The navigation app Waze finds you the best route according to traffic. Find the cheapest nearby gas using GasBuddy. If you don't have an EZ Pass or just want to know how much you're about to spend on tolls, try TollGuru. Looking for parking in an unfamiliar place? Try using an app like SpotAngels or INRIX ParkMe to find cheap options and see what's open. For flying, you can get an estimate on the wait times at security using an app like MiFlight. Use an app like this one to find a great deal on airport parking. Have a wait in-between flights, check out LoungeBuddy, which will help you find a lounge you can access (yes, even if you're not a member). If your flight gets canceled and you're in desperate need of a hotel, HotelTonight knows what is nearby and what the availability is.
There are also a number of apps endorsed by the MBTA. New England 511 covers New Hampshire, Vermont, and Maine.
5. Don't expect to park at Logan. It will just be too busy and parking will be at capacity. Use the Logan Express, take the Blue or Silver lines, or consider taking a taxi or Lyft.
When you're heading home from the holiday, expect traffic Thursday evening and on Sunday. If you still have some flexibility in your plans, try and travel on Saturday if possible. For more travel tips from MassPort, see here.
Want to know when the worst time is to head to the grocery store? Google Maps has a cool website where they're tracking and reporting all sorts of searches, and they can tell you when everyone is heading to the outlets, or buying their Christmas tree, and more.
From all of us at S.J. Markham and Son, Inc., we hope this Thanksgiving holiday is safe, relaxing, and free of any claims!