"God Bless the Dream, the Dreamer and the Result." 

Friday, November 23, 2007

Turkey Time Travel

Written by: Kristina Hughes
Joboja Staff Writer

Millions of people will make the annual turkey trot. But the commute to grandma's house is no longer over the hills and into the woods.

Packed airports, train stations and highways are as common as the cranberry sauce and stuffing. During the Thanksgiving trek, travelers can expect to rub elbows with more people at airports and hit gridlock on the highways.

AAA estimates that 37.2 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more from home during the holiday, up 3.1 percent from last year.

Despite higher prices leaving a hole in the pocket, people are still coming home to mom. According to CNN Money, "U.S. consumers are overlooking high gasoline prices and falling home values when it comes to plane tickets and road trips. According to the AAA Fuel Gauge Report, the average national gas prices are $3.09 a galloon up from $2.235 a galloon last year.

The great flee begins Tuesday for the early birds, but most travelers will end up in peak traffic on Wednesday and the Sunday, following Thanksgiving.

Once your tickets and bags are packed, the fun begins. If you're traveling by air, tracks or the road, hopefully these tips will keep the hassle in the kitchen.

Ahh, the experience of bumper to bumper traffic and the thrill of kids in the backseat (It's the perfect birth control). Every few minutes they repeat, "Are we there yet," No wonder, why Wednesday has turned into the biggest bar night of the year.

If you're going by car, these tips could make the trip more bearable. Remember to pack snacks and water bottles; also try to make stops every few hours. Break up the monotony by downloading your favorite road tunes (I recommend anything from the 80's) and make sure the kids have God's gift (MP3 players and video games.)

If by air is your forte, allow yourself a few hours to check in and go through security. Remember to pack light and put duct tape or tie a bright bow on your luggage to save time at the baggage terminal.

Keep an open mind, who knows Mr. Right could be just around the corner. I know a few friends who have met their significant other's at the airport. But, if you don't feel like making conversation with strangers, go Hollywood by donning sunglasses and hiding yourself in magazines.

At the airport remember to expect delays and packed gates. The ATA estimates as many as 2.7 million passengers will fly on U.S. airlines, approximately 600,000 more than the average day. The ATA expects airlines to fill 90 percent of their planes' available seats during the holiday. According to AAA, air travel is expected to increase by 4 percent this year, to 4.6 million travelers.

Train and bus stations are projected to see an increase in passengers. AAA estimates 2 million holiday travelers will travel by train, bus or other mode of transportation, up from 1.9 million last year

But not everyone is coming home. Some travelers are replacing the turkey with French cuisine or daiquiris. According to AAA a growing number of travelers are using the Thanksgiving week for a Caribbean and European vacation. Packages priced just right are cashing in on the American holiday. Gate1Travel, an online travel agent offers a affordable air and hotel packages with Thanksgiving departures. A six-day vacation to Paris or Vienna start at $399 per person while six-day London packages begin at $449.

If a European vacation is not in the budget, why not opt to be a tourist in your own backyard. Pre Thanksgiving bar crawls, one of the largest Thanksgiving parades and home cooked meals by chefs make Chicago my kind of town.

After feasting on turkey, why not tuck in with the John Hughes classic, " Planes, Trains & Automobiles." Their tale of travel woe is like surviving the magnificent mile on Black Friday.

No comments: