Yes, it’s here, the busiest travel weekend of the year! Aren’t you excited?? And the American Automobile Association reports that, due to lower gas prices this year, there will be even more cars on the road. Maybe yours will soon be one of them. But don’t panic. Follow these 10 tips for negotiating this weekend’s travels, and you’ll have even more to be thankful for when you sit down for the feast.

  1. If you’re driving, as most people traveling over the holiday will be, keep in mind these traffic trends that Google Maps compiled based on last year. For most areas in America, the worst day and time to begin your Thanksgiving trip is Wednesday from 3 to 5 p.m., so aim to leave earlier, or else wait until after 7 p.m.
  2. Before setting out on your road trip, put together an emergency kit with items such as first-aid supplies, bottled water, a flashlight with extra batteries, reflective hazard signs in case you’re in an accident, jumper cables, foam tire sealant, and ever-useful duct tape.
  3. Bring the essentials to keep you and your fellow travelers comfy (and not complaining), whether it’s your daughter’s favorite stuffed animal, or your NapAnywhere, for a catnap at 30,000 feet, or a snooze while hubby drives. (If you haven’t discovered the benefits of the NapAnywhere, check it out on this website; there’s still plenty of time to order yours before your Christmas road trip.)
  4. Bring a stash of snacks, so you’re able to calm fussy toddlers, or appease chronically hungry teenage boys en route. And a surprise goody bag or two (a notepad with crayons, a deck of cards) can smooth over crisis moments.
  5. Charge up the family cellphones beforehand, but don’t forget to pack those chargers.
  6. Try to pack light if you’re flying, not just to minimize your airline baggage fees, but also to make a last-minute flight switch more doable.
  7. Use technology to find the most trouble-free path on the road. The free RoadNinja app (for iOS, Android) offers info about restaurants, gas stations and interesting stops at every highway exit, as well as real-time gas prices and coupons. Try Waze (for iOS, Android), also free, to get traffic updates and turn-by-turn navigation.
  8. If you’re flying, confirm before you leave home that your flight is departing on time, or flying at all. If your flight is cancelled once you’re already at the airport, multi-task to improve your options by calling the airline while you’re also standing in line at customer service.
  9. Be flexible. If your flight is overbooked, can you fly later in the day (and also get tickets for a future vacation), or can you suggest to the airline agent a nearby city if your original destination is not an option?
  10. Most important of all, have your sense of humor ready. If the unexpected occurs, take a deep breath and make the best of it. Whatever happens, you’ll likely remember it with lots of laughs over the turkey dinner next year.

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