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Flying for Thanksgiving? Essential Packing Tips to Travel for Turkey Day

Essential Packing for Thanksgiving Flights
Written by Staff Writer

This blog post was updated on November 9, 2022.

As you gear up to brave the airport for your Thanksgiving travels, you’ll want to pack up your bags with essentials to make one of the busiest travel days a little less busy. While there will be crowds, long lines, and gate hoverers out in full force, traveling for Thanksgiving can be much more bearable if you have a few helpful tools in your carry-on bag. This November, before you make your turkey trot home, be sure to check out our advice on essential packing tips.

Pack Lots of Snacks!

Essential Packing for Thanksgiving Flights Snacks

It might sound silly to pack snacks for your Thanksgiving flights since you’ll be feasting in a few hours.  But with flight delays, cancellations, and any other long travel day mishaps that can come about, you’ll be extra thankful for the nibbles in your bag. While you can buy food at the airport, those purchases can really drain the wallet, especially as the holiday season approaches. If you can save money (and your stomach) on one of the busiest travel days of the year, why not take the time to pack a few snacks from home?

Don’t Forget the Hand Sanitizer

Essential Packing for Thanksgiving Flights Hand Sanitizer

The Thanksgiving travel period is one of the busiest, if not the busiest, of the year. This means lots of people. So, you’ll definitely want to pack a bottle of hand sanitizer to have at the ready. If you touch anything from the check-in screens to those germy security bins, you’ll be extra grateful to have something to keep the colds at bay.

Sanitizing wipes are also great to use at your destination for cleaning hands and surfaces. Use them to wipe down any items you’ll reuse during your trip like utensils, shopping bags, water bottles, etc. Look for products that smell pleasant but don’t contain too much alcohol since this may irritate the skin. Additionally, keep travel-sized toiletries in an easy-to-access spot so you won’t need to pull out every small item in your suitcase when you’re already running late.

Have Your Boarding Pass Ready

Essential Packing for Thanksgiving Flights Boarding Pass

A great piece of advice is to prepare your boarding pass ahead of time. To save you lots of time and stress, you should have your boarding pass packed away in your carry-on bag before you leave for the airport. Whether you print out a paper copy or merely download your mobile boarding pass, you’ll eliminate unnecessary steps in the airport and alleviate the stress of your Thanksgiving journey if you take care of it beforehand.

Wear Your Bulky Clothes to the Airport

Since air travel is uncomfortable enough already, wearing your heaviest clothing on the plane will save you quite a bit of space. This reduces the need to bring bulky items in your luggage. It’s also nice to have a nice bulky coat with you on the plane to use as a makeshift blanket in case the plane temperature is on the cold side. And if it gets too hot, you can stuff it in the overhead bin.

Related: Far From Home? Check Out These 7 Tips for Celebrating Thanksgiving Abroad!

Bring Noise-Canceling Headphones or Ear Plugs

Essential Packing for Thanksgiving Flights Headphones

Due to all of the holiday travelers, noise and stress levels in the airport escalate. To keep your Thanksgiving travel days stress-free, bringing along some noise-canceling headphones or even just earplugs can come in handy. By blocking out all the noise, you’ll experience less fatigue from your travels. Also, noise-cancelling headphone can eliminate the constant background humming of the airplane and allow you to rest more comfortably.

Stock Up On Caffeine

Essential Packing for Thanksgiving Flights Caffeine

The Thanksgiving holiday can be quite stressful between being with family and friends and then heading back to the office shortly after. From tea packets to instant coffee, caffeine is always helpful to travelers on the road. To keep alert and not miss those early morning flights or redeyes, a little caffeine at your disposal could end up being a holiday miracle.

Use Packing Cubes and Compression Bags

Essential Packing for Thanksgiving Flights Compression Bag
Packing cubes can help keep different types of clothing organized in your luggage when you’re flying to see family during the holiday season. Packing cubes can help you keep your things organized by type of clothing, by outfit, or even for different people you’re sharing your bag with. Compression bags also come in handy for when you’d like to fit a little more into your bag. They work by vacuuming the air out of clothing, which reduces the volume inside a suitcase without folding items in a way that leaves creases.

Pack Light

When flying, try sticking with one piece of carry-on luggage as much as possible. By doing this, you’ll be able to avoid having multiple bags checked in at the ticket counter. This also saves time at luggage claim and during screening. Pack your clothes into one bag with a separate small case or pouch for your carry-on items. It’s easiest if your carry-on is something you can easily take out, such as laptop bags, travel purses, wallets, briefcases, and toiletry items..

Also, keep all toiletry items in clear plastic bottles or pouches so they can be inspected quickly by security upon entering the checkpoint without having to make your entire bag accessible to them. If there are liquids involved, consider pouring these into travel-size containers before your flight since these can be difficult to get through security anyway.

Bring Reusable Food Containers and Drinkware

Essential Packing for Thanksgiving Flights Tupperware

Packing reusable food containers and water bottles can save you a lot of money and hassle on any trip. They help you avoid unnecessary purchases, like buying overpriced snacks at the airport or onboard your flights, but they’re especially important when you’re traveling for Thanksgiving and want to take part in the beloved tradition of leftovers.

What other essential packing for Thanksgiving flights tips can you think of? Tell us in the comments!

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