8 Thanksgiving Travel Tips for Families

Thanksgiving is a busy, busy travel time for families. Busy, but not the busiest travel day says USA Today. So….how busy is it?


46 MILLION people traveling….that is a LOT of turkey dinners!



How to Plan the Best Thanksgiving Travel Itinerary for your Family

Thanksgiving Travel –  Fly as early as possible in the morning.

The earlier the flight, the less things can go wrong! If your flight is the first one in the morning then it is less likely to be delayed. Families find this an easier time to fly, too, because sometimes kiddos fall asleep on the plane.

Thanksgiving Travel –  Book now.

Flights are fewer and farther between and seats are limited. These days planes are smaller and often over booked. With Thanksgiving breathing down our neck, time is of the essence. So, if you see a flight you like book it, Danno! The earlier the better!

boarding. airplane.

Thanksgiving Travel –  Be creative.

Consider flying into a nearby, less busy, airport and then renting a car. You can save a lot of money if you fly nearby and drive.

Busiest airports in the world: (Avoid them, if you can, at the busy holiday times)

Beijing Capital
London Heathrow
Tokyo Haneda
Los Angeles
Dubai International
Chicago O’Hare
Paris Charles de Gaulle
Dallas/Fort Worth
Hong Kong

Thanksgiving Travel –  Consider flying ON Thanksgiving Day.

Most people want to fly the Monday before Thanksgiving. Choose another day and save money. This can make a lot of sense when you take the whole family and need lots of tickets!

A great idea is to have ‘fakes giving’ which is, of course, Thanksgiving on another day. This gives you more flexibility for the whole traveling group to get better fares!

Thanksgiving Travel –  Allow more time than you usually need.

Busy holidays are not the time to plan close connections. If you have a choice, give yourself plenty of time for connecting flights, arrive at the airport earlier than usual and expect longer than usual lines at security. This can be especially important for traveling families. Running through the airport with the kiddos in tow is really, really hard!

Thanksgiving Travel –  Hedge your bets.

Not all airlines are created equally. Consider the on time arrival performance when you choose your airline.

These ‘on time’ stats from July 2017 for MAJOR airlines:

#1 Alaska Airlines

#2 Delta

#3 West Jet

#4 Southwest

#5 United

#6 American

#7 Frontier

#8 Virgin America

#9 Jet Blue

#10 Air Canada


Thanksgiving Travel –  Carryon your luggage.

With SO many people and SO many bags, carryon as much as you can to avoid the headache of lost bags. Pack less and wash more! Travel clothes that wash in the sink and hang dry are becoming more and more available for families with kids. Think polyester!

I love this carryon suitcase that is supposed to fit under most airline seats called appropriately ‘The Underseater’. It has spinner wheels and a USB port.

Read related posts on How to Make Travel Laundry Easy and Packing Tips for the Best Travel Wardrobe.

Thanksgiving Travel –  Splurge.

Research all your credit cards and frequent flier programs to check for perks. See if you can spend time in the lounge or board early. If you don’t have any perks this way, then consider purchasing a day pass for lounges. Most have food and drinks, quiet areas to relax, and very  helpful airline personnel. (Note: helpful airline personnel are rare these days unfortunately so snap up the opportunity when you can!) Lounges are extra awesome for traveling families as there are snacks, spaces to spread out, and often fun things like computers, movies and a pool table!


Above all – take deep breaths, try to relax and be nice. These sort of things tend to bring out the worst in people…. be the bigger person and teach your kids how to be, too! 🙂 In the end, a vacation where you all arrive safely is something to be thankful for indeed, right?

Keep the kids busy during long holiday travel during Thanksgiving holidays! See these related posts for inflight activities for kids.

Preschool traveler – fun and learning activities

Keep Kids Busy on a Plane

Road Trip Activities to Keep Kids Happy and Busy

Thanksgiving Activities for Kids Traveling for Thanksgiving Day Holidays

Uchisar Castle near Goreme, Thanksgiving Travel, www.theeducationaltourist.com

Happy thankful travels,

Natalie, The Educational Tourist

The Educational Tourist




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1 Response

  1. August 26, 2017

    […] Choose the airline based on the ‘on time stats’ to see if your airline choice has a good record of getting people there on time! See the 2017 stats for on time airline flights here. […]

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