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With millions traveling this holiday season, your best-laid plans can quickly turn into an episode of National Lampoon’s Vacation if you are not careful. Follow these 10 simple tips to make sure that you are making memories instead of movies this Thanksgiving.

Avoid Illness

The holiday season, unfortunately, coincides with the flu season, along with the myriad of other respiratory illnesses that seem to prevail in the winter months. Nothing is worse than having your plans interrupted by illness. The number one way to prevent this is by practicing proper hand washing and using hand sanitizer when a sink is unavailable. It is also helpful to make sure your body is able to fight off any disease that you are introduced to by taking vitamins, particularly Vitamin C. To ensure everyone stays healthy, it is also a good idea to encourage your family to get their flu shot. However, sometimes sickness and injury is unavoidable, so it may be a good idea to purchase travel insurance in case you have to cancel your plans due to a last minute medical emergency.

Shop Around

In this day and age, there are so many different options, giving you more opportunities for deals. Do your research and check reviews to make sure whatever company you choose for your travel needs provides the best quality for the price.

Plan Your Connecting Flights Carefully

When booking your flight, leave plenty of time in between connecting flights. It is better to have an extended layover than to miss your connecting flight due to delays. This is another time that trip protection can really be helpful to avoid additional costs or to assist in finding another flight if you miss yours.

Leave Early

Whether you are flying or driving, give yourself a buffer, and leave earlier than you think you need to. During the holidays, everything is busier than normal, from the roadways to the airlines. You don’t want any unexpected road delays or long lines at the airport to make you miss your flight. It is also a good idea to place any required paperwork or necessary items in your car the night before. If possible, go ahead and place your luggage in there as well. You are going to be tired and flustered when you wake up; you don’t want to take the chance of forgetting anything. If flying, make sure you have any identification needed, along with your boarding passes. If driving, remember a hard copy of your directions (GPS may not work in some locations) and plenty of change in case of tolls.

Plan Your Flight For Early or Late In The Day

Flights that are scheduled for early in the morning or late at night statistically are less likely to be delayed. When everyone else is asleep, the airport is less congested, making check-in less stressful and time-consuming. You can always catch up on your rest during the flight. If you are scheduled for an early morning departure and it does happen to be delayed, you still have the option to take a flight later in the day without being behind schedule.

Avoid Peak Travel Dates

Whether you are flying or driving, avoid leaving the Wednesday before Thanksgiving; this is the peak day for travel. If possible, leave earlier in the week to save you from dreaded traffic or possible flight delays.

Minimize The Risk of Costly Delays From Car Trouble

If you will be driving this year, make sure that your vehicle is in good condition. Prior to traveling, take your car in for an oil change and a check-up to detect any possible problems. You want to fix any concerns while you are still near a trusted mechanic. Make sure that all of your tires are in good repair and have the recommended air pressure. You may even want to consider renting a vehicle to save mileage on your own, giving you access to alternative transportation or repairs if there are any issues on the road. If you feel more comfortable driving your own vehicle, trip protection will afford you these same benefits.

Attach A Colorful Ribbon or Bow to Your Luggage

Not only does this save you time by making your luggage easier to identify at baggage claim, but it will also help if your bag is lost or stolen. You may also want to consider purchasing travel insurance, which can assist you in getting your baggage returned safely and reimburse you for the cost of clothing and personal items while you are waiting for the airline to locate your luggage. Always make sure to pack any valuables or irreplaceable items in your carry-on luggage.

Carefully Plan For the Care of Your Home and Pets

There is nothing that spoils a trip more than worrying about things back home. Find a couple of reliable people to look after your home and pets while you are gone, maybe a trusted neighbor or close friend. That way if one person falls through, you have someone else that can help. It is also a good idea to give a key to your home and any left-behind vehicles to more than one person in case one gets lost.

Come Prepared To Travel In Comfort

When traveling, it’s always a good idea to wear comfortable, non-restrictive clothing. If flying, bring gum to minimize the discomfort of changing air pressure. Be sure to pack plenty of books, magazines, and earbuds. If you suffer from motion sickness, plan to bring plenty of medication along to help minimize any discomfort.

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