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To describe Thanksgiving as a busy time for travel is a monumental understatement.

Last year, AAA estimated that 50.9 million Americans traveled at least 50 miles from home to spend time with friends and family.

So in 2018, whether you’re navigating trains, planes or automobiles to break bread with loved ones, here are three top preparation tips for family Thanksgiving travel.

  1. Dining coupons

Merely mention dining out on Thanksgiving to a holiday traditionalist and they’re liable to tear off a turkey leg and use it as a makeshift weapon.

But there are more pros to celebrating outside the homestead than you may realize.

For starters, being out and about as a group in a local area when it’s unusually quiet feels strangely exciting — you’re recapturing a soupcon of the pioneering spirit of the Pilgrim Fathers.

But best of all, it’s far less stressful. The main purpose of Thanksgiving is family bonding, so by leaving the cuisine prep to someone else, there’s more time to spend socializing.

If you want to be super thrifty, grab some great deals on dining out at Groupon.com — this will save cash for the extended family to spend on an alternative treat like a trip to the movies.

  1. Airport parking

If you’re flying away for Thanksgiving to celebrate further afield, reaching your departure airport via public transport might seem like the most efficient option.

But organizing tickets, struggling with luggage and cramming yourselves in among fellow travelers can leave moms and pops feeling antsy and kids throwing temper tantrums like miniature Mariah Carey’s.

Better to travel in your own vehicle and leave it secured at the airport until you return. This approach is far more comfortable and convenient.

Arrange your car park online with a coast-to-coast provider and you’re good to go — you’ll find everything from valet services in Vegas to park and ride options at Newark when you search for airport parking at Looking4.com.

  1. Kids entertainment

The airport terminal can be another flashpoint for traveling families — parents with young kids can find dealing with the logistics of pushchairs, carry cots and assorted equipment tough to cope with, while extended delays compound the anxiety.

There’s always an element of trial and error in making an unfamiliar trip for the first time as a family unit, but airport children’s entertainment areas can be a godsend when kids are in dire need of distractions and friendly staff can assist when you’re struggling with luggage.

When dealing with delays, pre-packed snacks and (fully charged) electronic devices work wonders. And when all else fails, a bribe in the form a burger at their favorite fast food restaurant should do the trick.

There’s no set formula for ensuring your time air-side is calm and chilled — but read this article on surviving an airport with kids from Rough Guides for more advice.

Follow these three Thanksgiving travel prep tips and your family will be full of enough cheer to last until next year.

Can you add to our Thanksgiving travel tips? Share your thoughts in the comments section.

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