Thanksgiving Return-Trip Travel Tips

Getting ready to head home from grandma's? You won't be alone -- AAA says nearly 40 million people will travel by car today.

Flying won't offer you any relief either. It's the second busiest air travel day -- Wednesday was the busiest -- and analysts say air travel was up by 5 percent this year.

But there's no need to ruin a nice Thanksgiving vacation with a nightmare travel experience. Here are some travel tips to make today go a little smoother:

Road Trip

Justin McNaul, AAA spokesman, offers the following recommendations:

Leave as early on Sunday morning as you can, because the roads will be packed this afternoon and evening.

Spend an extra day at grandma's and leave Monday morning.

This might be the first time this season you're dealing with winter weather. Build in some extra time in case you have to drive slower.

Keep blankets, food and water in your car in case you get stranded in a blizzard.


Amy Ziff, editor at large of Travelocity, suggests the following:

Try to avoid booking the last flight out, because if there are weather problems or delays, that is the one that will be canceled.

Don't wrap presents: Security may have to unwrap them, even if they are in checked baggage.

Don't check any valuables. And if something is irreplaceable, don't bring it at all.

Leave plenty of time to get to the airport, since the roads may be more crowded than usual. Plan to arrive two hours before your flight so you have enough time to check in and go through security.

Curbside check-in can sometimes be faster, because people tend to automatically go inside the terminal.

Riding the Rails

Train routes that don't normally require reservations have been requiring them during this holiday week. All Northeast corridor trains require reservations, as do Pacific Surfliner trains in Southern California.

Amtrak advises you to arrive at the station at least 45 minutes before departure if tickets need to be picked up.