CONCORD, NH — Putting a big Christmas meal on the table can be stressful for the cook (see “The Bear,” season two, episode six.) But for guests, just getting to the table can also be difficult, and there is no solution. Butterball Hotline for busy travelers.
And while misery loves company, there are steps travelers can take to improve their experience:
FIRST LISTS GET THE ROADS OPEN
Not only will traffic jams slow you down, but they can also lead to accidents caused by distracted drivers, said Megan Jones, senior actuary at Arity, another company that analyzes mobility data.
“When traffic moves at a more regular pace and there are fewer stops and starts, people are less likely to pick up their phones,” she said.
However, speeding also increases during the holidays, she said, with the highest rate of high-speed driving being above 80 mph on the Sunday after Thanksgiving. Drivers need to be mindful of their own behavior and attentive to those around them, Jones said.
“It’s something to be aware of when you come home. There are others on the road, and those high speeds do indeed present a higher risk of accidents, and more costly accidents when they do occur,” she said.
Take it easy, don’t be embarrassed
Traveling by car with kids poses additional challenges, including breaking up backseat fights and avoiding car sickness.
Although those traveling on Thanksgiving might be tempted to skip meals or snacks since they’re heading to a feast, that could be a bad decision, said Dr. Mona Amin, a pediatrician and parenting coach. .
“An empty stomach can make nausea symptoms worse, so make sure anyone prone to carsickness has a full, hydrated stomach,” she said.
Additional tips include avoiding screen time, opening windows for fresh air, and asking the child to look at the horizon.
“Sometimes damage can happen,” she says. “Remain calm in your voice and tone and reassure them.”
DEEP BREATHES, NO BIG GULPS
About 4.7 million people are expected to fly during the Thanksgiving travel period, according to AAA. That’s a 6.6% increase from 2022 and the highest figure since 2005. As for air travel, Sheryl Skaggs, a sociology professor at the University of Texas at Dallas, said a a little empathy goes a long way.
“Go away thinking the planes will probably be incredibly crowded,” she said. “Seasoned travelers are more sensitive to this and prepared for this, but there are so many other people who are not necessarily regular travelers who are going to be traveling over the Thanksgiving holiday.”
She urged travelers to show tolerance and understanding, rather than worrying about crying babies or fighting over reclining seats.
“It’s not particularly comfortable for anyone,” she said. “But if you show respect to others, that can also have a chain reaction.”
Skaggs co-authored a study published earlier this year exploring nearly 1,000 incidents of passenger misconduct on airplanes over a 20-year period. Alcohol consumption contributes significantly to misconduct, which the study defines as behavior that is abusive or unruly, antagonizing others or compromising flight safety.
Often, alcohol consumption begins long before passengers board the plane, Skaggs said.
“Don’t be afraid to say something to the flight attendants if you think something is wrong or if you see something could get out of hand,” she said.
THE EMOTIONAL JOURNEY
Thanksgiving travel can also be an emotional journey depending on the travelers’ destination.
The holidays can be difficult for a variety of reasons, including complicated family dynamics, unrealistic expectations and disruption of routine, said Dr. Laura Erickson-Schroth, chief medical officer of the Jed Foundation, a nonprofit organization focused on suicide prevention.
“There can be a lot of anticipatory anxiety about the holidays, thinking about what happened in previous years or wondering how things will turn out,” she said.
To alleviate this anxiety, she recommended dedicating travel time to mental health and preparing for what’s to come.
“If you have to be around family members with whom you typically have conflicts, my advice is to decide in advance how you want to interact with them. Things become a lot more difficult once you’re in that situation: old patterns can come out quickly,” she said. “So think ahead about what’s going to make you feel best.”