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The holiday season is officially in full swing! The busiest travel time of the year is coming up. Thousands are rushing to get home, the airport is full of people and grocery stores are populated with last-minute shoppers. This year’s holiday rush may be more hectic than ever before. Don’t miss the turkey! Be home just in time for Thanksgiving Dinner. Here are some tips to ease your travel and prevent any road bumps that may happen on the way–literally and figuratively.

  1. Plan Ahead
    This tip may sound too obvious but there are many factors we tend to overlook. Many travelers leave days before before Thanksgiving. This surge means that a bulk of travelers have already left before the holiday. According to travel experts, the best day to travel for Thanksgiving is on Thanksgiving. If you can’t get leave days before, avoid traveling on Wednesday and consider leaving Thursday morning when most have already reached their final destination. Even better, most airlines offer reduced fare options to travel on holidays.
  2. Leave Early
    If you’re flying, leave to the airport extra-extra early. There’s nothing worse than missing your flight when you have turkey on your mind. The traffic on the way to the airport, parking, checking in, going through security, getting coffee, etc., already take a long time so imagine that times a 100. The web can also be a huge time saver. Avoid long lines and print boarding passes at home, check-in through kiosks or use your smartphone to pull up your pass. Driving? If you can, avoid leaving on Wednesday and Sunday. Plan your route ahead, leave during off-peak hours and check the forecast before to be prepared for any rain or snow that may occur ahead. Lastly, be sure to gas up the night before.
  3. Travel Light
    Some airlines charge for bags so pack light and carry on your bag of essentials. Carrying on will save you time at the airport and will cost less. Because of unpredictable weather conditions, flights tend to be delayed and even canceled. Having the necessities with you will make it less stressful and hopefully make the time go by faster. Don’t forget! Make sure your liquids and gels are in 3.4-ounce containers or smaller.
  4. Double and Triple Check
    Anything could happen during the busiest travel time of the year so staying updated on your airline and freeways is always a good idea. Don’t forget to check your flight status for delays and flight changes. Airlines and airports usually post updates on their social media so be sure to follow them to stay in the loop. You can also download the apps FlightStats, Tripit or GateGuru to easily access essential information about your status, airport overviews and more.
  5. Go Through Security Quickly
    Knowing TSA requirements will surely speed up the process. Remember to place your liquids in a plastic baggy, take off your shoes and jackets and place metal and other objects such as laptops and cell phones in separate bins. Avoid wearing a lot of jewelry and shoes that take a long time to put on and take off.

Last But Not Least!

Most U.S. citizens must use a U.S. passport to travel overseas and reenter the United States. A passport is an internationally recognized travel document that verifies your identity and citizenship. Only the U.S. Department of State has the authority to issue U.S. passports.

Most foreign countries require a valid passport to enter and leave. Some countries may allow you to enter with only a birth certificate, or with a birth certificate and a driver’s license, but all persons, including U.S. citizens, traveling by air, must present a valid passport to reenter the United States.

If you are traveling by land or sea, you must provide evidence of both your U.S. citizenship and your identity when you reenter the United States. For many land or sea trips this means you can travel using the new U.S. passport card instead of the normal passport book. Read more about U.S. passport requirements.

What about your children? Some countries have instituted requirements to help prevent child abductions and may require travelers to present proof of relationship to the children and evidence of consent from any non-accompanying parent(s). Visit our child abduction country information pages for information about your destination.

When does your passport expire? Some countries require that a traveler’s passport be valid for at least six months beyond the dates of the trip. Contact the embassy of your foreign destination for more information. Foreign embassy and consulate contact information can also be found in our Country Specific Information pages.