6 simple steps to stress-free Thanksgiving travel

Brush up before you hit the road.

November 20, 2017, 2:07 PM

— -- Traveling for the Thanksgiving holiday? If you are, now is the perfect time to review simple steps you can take to make traveling for the holiday less stressful.

First and foremost, if you're driving, don't leave on the Tuesday evening before Thanksgiving.

According to traffic app Waze, the worst time to travel before this Thanksgiving will be 5 p.m. local time on Tuesday, Nov. 21. The worst time to travel home afterward will be Monday, Nov. 27 from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. And there will be a spike of midday travel on Sunday, with the worst traffic likely at 2 p.m.

For those flying, Wednesday and Sunday are the days to avoid.

Whether driving or flying, Thanksgiving Day is generally a good time to take to the roads or skies.

When it comes to airport safety, there are different rules for kids and adults.

Kids under 12 aren't subject to the same regulations at airport security. So feel free to leave on your toddler's shoes and jacket while going through the checkpoint. Seniors may also leave on shoes and light jackets. As for a baby's necessities, breast milk, formula, baby food and other essentials are not subject to the 3-ounce liquid rule, though they will likely have a secondary screening.

Speaking of kids ...

Some airlines allow families with small children to board the flight first. Don't do this. It only adds time for children to stay their seats. If possible, store the carry-ons ahead and have one adult stay with the kids and board as close to takeoff as possible.

Know what you may take on board and what you may not.

Stuffing may fly, but what about cranberry sauce? Gravy? Find the answers to all your Thanksgiving carry-on questions on the Transportation Security Administration's website using its handy "Can I bring?" search tool.

Laptops may stay in your bag, sometimes.

Check your boarding pass to see if you were selected for the Transportation Security Administration's Precheck program. If you were, your laptop may stay in your bag. And, like a kid or senior, your shoes and jacket may stay on. Precheck is available at more than 100 U.S. airports and offers expedited security lines. You could get lucky and be picked, or you can sign up for Precheck online for $85 for five years.

Reserve airport parking.

Lots fill up fast, and the last thing you want to do is miss your flight while you're looking for a parking spot. If you make a reservation, you could even get a discount at off-airport lots. Leave plenty of time to get from the lot to your terminal.

Avoid checking a bag if possible.

There's no way for an airline to lose your bag if you don't hand it over in the first place. And while there are relatively few instances of mishandled bags, if it happens to you, it can ruin your trip. If you must check a bag, get to the airport early and leave plenty of time for handlers to get your bag onto the plane. Keep all medications and irreplaceable items with you. Print a copy of your airline itinerary and put it inside your bag in case the luggage-routing tags somehow disappear.

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