20 Tips For A Last-Minute Thanksgiving Trip Gallery

The holiday season can get quite hectic, and it's easy to let your Thanksgiving planning fall to the wayside. Perhaps you've been busy at work, you're a serial procrastinator, or you're simply dreading the thought of dealing with family, but either way, you may have found yourself scrambling to make your way home for Thanksgiving or book a nice fall trip for the long weekend. It's time to face the music and start your preparations as soon as possible.

First, you need to decide how you'll travel. Then you should determine the dates of your trip. And finally, there's the matter of packing and preparing. From the mode of transportation to smart packing, to things you can check off the list before you leave, these quick tips can help ease a stressful situation. So if you're freaking out, take a deep breath and check out these last-minute Thanksgiving travel tips.

Ask for a Price Match

In case you're deciding to take a vacation around Thanksgiving time or simply getting a hotel while visiting family, you should know that there are many ways to avoid the steep holiday rates, even if you're booking close to Turkey Day. One way you can save on your hotel room is to make a cancellable reservation at one hotel before calling up the front desk at another one nearby. Tell them how much you like their hotel after reading reviews but that you have another reservation, and ask politely if they'll offer you a better rate or room.

Be Flexible

When the pickings are slim, you have to roll with the punches. If flying out in the morning is twice the price compared with an evening flight, book the cheaper option. Your wallet will thank you.

Buy a Portable Charger or an Extra Phone Charger

There are certain items every savvy traveler will know to pack, and a portable charger is one of them. A portable charger, or even just an extra USB charger, will come in handy for road trips in particular, especially if you're using your phone as a GPS. If your car doesn't have a USB port, look for a charger that plugs into the 12-volt outlet.

Check the Price of Your Flight

Keep checking your flight to see if the price drops. Depending on the airline policy, you may get a refund or credit for the difference.

Check the Weather

Thanks to climate change, weather has become a more unpredictable phenomenon than ever, and this is especially true during fall. Don't assume you know what the weather will be where you're going; check the forecast as you're packing so that you know what to bring, and make sure you give it another look right before you leave in case there are any changes.

Compare One-Way Flights

One great way to save on airfare is to buy one-way flights on two different carriers. Doing so can sometimes get you a better deal than booking a round-trip ticket.

Confirm All Reservations

Even if you've made bookings shortly before the actual date of the reservation, it's always a good idea to confirm them right before. Whether you've booked a stay at a great hotel, or made a reservation for a restaurant or other attraction, you should double-check all dates, timings, and details, as well as keep all confirmation numbers and customer service phone numbers handy.

Do Some Easy Research

Let the internet do the work for you. Search for flights on Trivago, Kayak, Google Flights, and other travel search engines. You'll have all possible prices and times at your fingertips.

Download Your Airline’s App

Travel apps can be a lifesaver. Stay ahead of the game and get real-time updates so you're not surprised when Mother Nature has other plans for you. If your flight is delayed or canceled due to rain or snow, you'll know instantly. Then you can race to the ticket counter ahead of everyone else.

Fly With a Budget Airline

A fantastic way to save money on flight tickets any time, but especially when you're booking close to the flight date, is to fly with a lower-tier, budget-friendly airline. You may not have great service, or even much room, but it'll get you to your destination with quite a bit of change to spare.

Get Rid of Perishable Food

Check expiration dates on containers and packages, or make a quick salad using up all the fruits and veggies in your crisper. The last thing you'll want to come home to is something rotting on the counter or in the refrigerator.

Grab an Empty Water Bottle Before You Fly

Pack your own water bottle to fill at the airport. There are plenty of water fountains, and many airports have installed specific stations for filling up water bottles.

Keep an Eye on Groupon

Groupon is a must, whether you need a hotel or you're looking to do something new and exciting over the holiday weekend. Sign up for email alerts or simply browse the website for the best deals you can find that weekend.

Pack as Light as Possible

Pack what you need, and not more. Consider the length of your trip, where you're going, and what you will be doing before you pack. If you're heading home for a weekend, you don't need every outfit in your closet. Plus, you need to be mindful of the weight limit for checked bags and size limit for carry-ons.

Secure Your Home

Traveling at the last minute means you're likely to forget something. Don't let it be an unlocked door or a plugged-in iron. Make sure all doors and windows are secure, and double-check that anything unnecessary is unplugged.

Set the Thermostat

Don't make the mistake of turning your thermostat all the way off while you're gone. If you live in an area where it'll still be warm, you should set it to 85 to 90 degrees. If it's colder where you are, set it between 50 and 55 degrees to prevent freezing pipes.

Stop at the ATM

Grab some cash before you go. Although credit card companies are doing their best to make everything cashless, it's always good to have some bills on hand for incidentals. And you'll avoid paying ATM fees if you can't find a branch of your bank near your destination.

Take the Bus

If you don't mind the scenic route, grab a book or an iPad and prepare for some "me" time. Both Megabus and Greyhound offer rides starting around $100 round-trip, depending on your destination.

Take to Social Media

Social media isn't just a great place to share your travel stories and successes; it's also a great place to discuss your travel woes. Pose a question on Facebook or Twitter asking others about deals they've seen or what they're doing to cope with travel stress. Try using the colorful background on Facebook or the Twitter poll feature to get people's attention.

Travel Mid-Week to Save Money

Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays are often considered the cheapest days to fly. Most people travel on weekends, so there's a chance you can score better deals midweek. You may even be able to avoid full flights and get some extra room on the plane. And if you've got extra room on the table once you get to your destination, here's a list of every Thanksgiving side dish you'll ever need.

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