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The 5 Biggest Myths of Thanksgiving Travel

It’s true that the holidays are among the busiest traveling periods of the year, but there are several misconceptions associated with the season. Common wisdom has lodged certain ideas into the public’s collective consciousness, but in reality many are exaggerated—or simply not true. Here are five myths about Thanksgiving travel, debunked and demystified once and for all.

Myth #1: Gas Prices Go Through the Roof

Notwithstanding uncontrollable global and geopolitical factors, the price of gasoline does not typically increase near Thanksgiving. In fact, the demand for gas usually drops enough throughout the month of November that prices are rarely lower at any point during the year. Of course, you can also choose to share ride expenses by carpooling when possible—which is a bonus for the environment, too.

Myth #2: Airport Delays Are at Their Worst

Experiencing a delayed flight can be brutal; there’s nothing quite like being stuck in an airport with hundreds of other put-out holiday fliers. Contrary to popular belief, however, Thanksgiving does not produce the most air travel delays—inclement summer and winter weather are responsible for grounding more airplanes than anything else. On average, flights in November experience delays about three percent less often than those which depart in the first eight months of the year.

Myth #3: The Day Before Thanksgiving is the Worst Day to Travel

Whether it’s the worst travel day is still up for debate—but it’s definitely not the busiest day to be on the road. It’s certainly true that the volume of travelers increases substantially around the holidays, but the Wednesday before Turkey Day is only among the ten most busy each year. In reality, peak summer traveling days (namely Fridays) put the most cars on the road during any 24-hour period.

The trick to avoiding the pain of Thanksgiving gridlock is to steer clear of peak hours; try to stay off the road between 3 and 5 p.m. for best results.

Myth #4: Frequent-Flyer Miles Are No Good

Even as blackout dates have started to disappear from frequent-flyer programs, restrictions still remain in place to limit travelers during peak seasons. In most cases, your air miles cannot be redeemed for tickets on sold-out flights, so the trick is simply to schedule your trip around the crowds. If you’re willing to leave a day or two earlier than the masses, you’re much more likely to score a good deal when redeeming your rewards.

Even if economy seating prices aren’t looking too savory, don’t forget to check on business and first-class tickets. There are often deals to be found that many people have overlooked.

Myth #5: Alcohol’s Off the Menu

The holidays tend to inspire celebratory moods, and so many adults will be inclined to enjoy a drink or two with dinner. For most people, this means drawing straws to decide who’s going to play the role of designated driver. You do have options, though—share a ride with family or friends headed the same direction, or even consider a hired car service if you’ve got a whole group going to and from the same locations. Get your plan in place well in advance to make sure you’re not left out in the cold—or worse yet, forced to play DD.

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