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How to avoid holiday travel headaches

woman standing in airport


The holiday travel rush is almost upon us; we have your forecast, plus travel tips to help you prepare and get to your destination safely.

Key Highlights

More than 50 million people are expected to travel for the Thanksgiving holiday

A strong cold front may bring travel delays from the Mississippi Valley to the East Coast

AccuWeather’s SkyGuard® can help you prepare for your travels and protect your business while you’re gone.

Planning Makes Perfect

From planes to trains to cross-country drives, Americans are getting ready to hit the road for the holiday season. Weather can play a big role in how you get there and how long it takes. We’ve got your long-range forecast for Thanksgiving week plus some helpful travel tips that will keep you moving along the nation’s busy roads and airports.

From the Midwest to the Northeast, it's going to be a weather rollercoaster of sorts. Building high pressure will drop temperatures well below normal at times, producing snow and flurries. But then ahead of the cold fronts, temperatures will rise to near or above normal. In the Southwest, mild and dry conditions will welcome the holiday as high pressure sits over that region. An incoming low will bring spotty chances for rain, especially in the mountains, across the Northwest to the northern Plains. Elsewhere across the country, a strong cold front can bring some travel delays from the Mississippi Valley to the East Coast. Heavy showers and powerful thunderstorms are expected to roll in with this system potentially causing issues for air travel and along roadways. Once the front passes, the northern states will get a blast of cold air, with lake-effect snow and flurries possible around the Great Lakes. Stormy weather is also expected from the Northwest to the northern Plains over the holiday weekend with rain, snow, and colder air all in the forecast.

turkey day forecast copy

No matter where you’re going, it's always good to be prepared. Here are 5 tips to help you avoid headaches when it's time to travel this holiday season.

Take advantage of off-peak days

The days around Thanksgiving and Christmas tend to be the busiest travel times of the year. A good tip is to avoid these days altogether and travel on the actual holiday instead. For example, Christmas Day is a great day to take to the air because most people are already at their destinations. Traveling on the actual holiday makes for fewer cars on the road and less crowded airports.

Keep calm and plan for extra time

Holiday travel can be wildly unpredictable. Remember to budget extra time for delays, road closures, bad weather, and other holiday travel hazards. A good tip is to arrive at the airport a couple of hours early. If you’re driving, make sure to check the forecast using weather alert services like AccuWeather’s Snow AlertsTM before hitting the road. Snow Alerts allow you to customize alert thresholds for hazards that matter to you, such as snow and ice, so you know the greatest weather threat well in advance.

Pack light

Packing is a challenge for many travelers. Check the forecast to pack appropriate clothing for your destination and avoid overpacking. If you are flying, packing lightly will allow you to use a carry-on bag so you can avoid lost luggage and keep all your possessions with you at all times.

Always have a backup

With so many people traveling at the same time, there’s a lot of things that could go wrong. Coming up with a backup plan, even if it goes unused, is always a good idea because it will keep traveling anxiety and mishaps to a minimum. 

Choose to travel early or late

Scheduling flights that depart early in the morning or late at night is an easy way to avoid stress because planes and airports are usually less crowded. Although it may be slightly inconvenient, flights are also usually cheaper during these times.

AccuWeather forecasts help protect lives and property. Whether it's rain, snow, or severe weather, AccuWeather helps you battle any elements that Mother Nature throws your way. Our groundbreaking forecast tools ensure you stay ahead of any severe threats, all backed by our expert meteorologists and Superior Accuracy™.



Learn more about what’s to come this winter plus get a free two-week demo of snow alerts.

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