The travel journalists behind MapQuest today unveiled a series of tips for surviving the busiest travel period of the year, which unequivocally falls during Thanksgiving week. These tips cover off on air, rail and car travel tips to decrease costs, increase convenience and efficiency, and deliver travelers more easily to their destinations.
“Most of us have experienced the challenges travel can create any given day, but the time around Thanksgiving introduces inclement weather, larger travel crowds, greater variety in travel fluency and increased costs can cause greater chaos and uncertaintly,” said Michael Yessis, editor-in-chief, MapQuest. “MapQuest has always tried to eliminate the worry from wayfinding, and our tips address the primary pain points of travel during peak times.”
Busiest Time of the Year to Travel
Some of MapQuest’s heaviest traffic falls prior to Thanksgiving Day when folks are determining bigger vacation itineraries for the holiday season or last-minute plans for smaller getaways and overnights over the Thanksgiving weekend. The editorial team responds to inquiries MapQuest has received from its community, as well as issues they’ve experienced in their tenures as travel journalists. Though not an exhaustive list, top tips are below:
Charge and Prep Devices
A delay can sneak up without warning, and coveted outlets are not always readily available at airports or train stations. Charging a phone or tablet, and also inputting numbers for the customer service line of the airline carrier can serve displaced travelers well. Portable chargers are another good idea.
Use Twitter as a Travel Resource
Twitter is increasingly becoming the go-to place for travelers to resolve issues that arise during their travels. Some airlines are responding by stepping up their presence in the social sphere. American Airlines, for instance, will be adding extra resources to its Twitter team around the Thanksgiving holiday. Need help with a missed connection? Can’t locate a checked bag? Need to rebook? Travelers may want to consider Tweeting at their carrier.
Have Alternative Routes and Travel Options Ready
Those affected by a cancelled flight won’t likely find an agent with time to spend researching re-booking options. The savvy traveller will take screen shots of other potential itineraries and note local or regional airports as backup destinations. Having that information at hand can provide travelers with greater flexibility and a greater likelihood they will arrive sooner.
Keep Overnight Items On-person in Case of Delays
Many tips stem from the possibility of a delay, which can be even greater at certain airports; but nobody wants to be stuck without a toothbrush or contact lens fluid during a delay that extends into the night. Those small personal items can make travelers more comfortable while waylaid without baggage. With the 3-1-1 rule at the airport, though, all liquids must fit in a container of 3.4 ounces or less.
Plan with the MapQuest App
The MapQuest app provides alternate routes and can direct travelers around trouble spots. Should the vehicle need a tow, run out of gas, lock out the driver, MapQuest’s free navigation apps on iOS, Android and Amazon provide integrated, on-demand roadside assistance via Urgent.ly. Now travelers can find local, reliable roadside service providers, connect with them via the app and track their arrival to the car in real time.
Gas Up in Advance
Lines are inevitably long the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. Nobody wants to add a gas station pit stop to what will probably be an already long and stressful drive. Gassing up early in the week can provide shorter lines, better prices and a streamlined start to the holiday weekend.
Board Early Using Amtrak’s Red Cap Baggage Service
Red Cap agents can carry a passenger’s bags to the train early and, in doing so, deliver that passenger to the train and even to her seat before general boarding. It’s a free service, though tipping is recommended. Red Caps are available at 12 major stations, including New York, Boston, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. Note: Passengers will need to ask an agent to help. Red Caps can’t solicit work.
Stock Up on the Kids’ Stuff
Charge their devices. Stash extra batteries in the glove compartment. Download a favorite movie onto a tablet. Leave a new game or toy in their seat for them to discover when they get in the car. Pack lots of snacks. And the experienced guardian will also invest in kid-friendly headphones.
Use a GPS Luggage Tracker
To operate, travelers can place a GPS luggage device inside luggage to always know the location of their belongings. If the bag fails to arrive at the destination, travelers can let the airline know exactly where it is, whether that’s inside the building or on another continent. Engadget points to Trakdot ($49.99) as one option.
Don’t Be That Stressed-out Traveler
With so many extra errands and activities to facilitate during the holidays, travelers may want an extra hour or two to get to the airport or train station as to not feel harried. Not only will they feel less stress, but they can benevolently reduce other travelers’ stress by stopping to help pick up the toddler’s fallen toy or by stepping aside to let someone through a doorway. Planning ahead can make stressful situations better for all.
MapQuest editors spend every day writing about travel, reading about travel and, yes, actually going on trips. We want to help you travel better, so we’ll be sharing our favorite tips, secrets and discoveries from the road in this Editors’ Column.