5 Simple Secrets to Stress-Free Thanksgiving Travel

Hang on to your sanity and your bags.

November 23, 2015, 1:51 PM

— -- Traveling for the Thanksgiving holiday? If yes, now's the perfect time to review simple steps you can take to make traveling for the holiday less painless.

First and foremost: Do not leave on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, unless you live in Boston.

That's according to a analysis of Thanksgiving traffic by Google Maps. The worst day to travel by car is Wednesday unless you live in Boston, in which case, Tuesday is the day to avoid. Leaving Thursday morning, if it's an option, is generally a good one because it's a less-traveled day. If there's no way to avoid Wednesday, try to leave early morning or late at night. Same goes with flying.

When it comes to airport safety, kids have different rules than adults.

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

Laptops can stay in your bag, sometimes.

Check your boarding pass to see if you were selected for TSA Precheck. If you were, your laptop can stay in your bag. And, like a kid or a senior, your shoes and jacket can stay on. Precheck is available at more than 100 U.S. airports and offers expedited security lines. You may get lucky and get picked, but you can sign up for precheck online at a cost of $85 for five years.

Plan ahead for 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. Book ahead and you may even get a discount at off-airport lots. Leave plenty of time to get from the lot to your airline terminal.

Avoid checking a bag if possible.

There's no way for an airline to lose your bag if you never hand it over in the first place. And while the instances of mishandled bags is very low, nothing can ruin a trip faster. If you must check a bag, get to the airport early and leave plenty of time for handlers to get your bag on the plane. Keep all medications and irreplaceable items with you. Print out a copy of your airline itinerary and put it inside your bag in case the luggage routing tags somehow disappear.

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