Traveling for Thanksgiving is a rite of passage for millions of Americans. Whether heading back to your hometown or heading off to meet family, traveling during the holidays is something of a quintessential experience. And it can be a stressful one! Thankfully there are a number of thanksgiving travel tips to help reduce the amount of anxiety. The most effective advice involves advance preparation and packing. From the type of luggage you use to the clothing you want to wear, even the snacks you eat, knowing what you should pack ahead of time is key. Here are some essential thanksgiving travel tips for when you’re packing!

Reuse and Recycle…Your Clothes

The key to packing clothes for holiday travel is pack items you can reuse multiple times throughout your trip. Choose the pieces that are easy to layer and even easier to mix and match to help create several different outfits. By recycling the same basic options, you’ll save added space in your suitcase, and not have to worry about which outfit to wear to which gathering.

It’s especially useful if you’ll be attending more than one get-together on your Thanksgiving trip. It’s now fairly common to celebrate a “Friendsgiving” – a gathering separate from the main holiday meal with family that’s just for friends. Having an outfit ready to go for both occasions is extremely useful.

Depending on where you’re going, the dress code is going to alter slightly. If you’re visiting your family and your parents prefer you to look presentable, you’ll need a few options that work well dressed up or dressed down. For women, a basic cotton dress in a solid color can be dressed up with high heels, a cardigan, and jewelry for Thanksgiving dinner with your family at home. Swap out the heels for a pair of boots and the cardigan for a pullover sweater, and you’re ready to attend an afternoon meal with your friends. For men, a pair of khakis with a button down and tie with a nice sweater is an ensemble that presents a “put-together” look. And after you’ve discussed stock options with your Uncle Earl, you can take off the tie and sweater and throw on a denim jacket for heading to the bar to meet up with your buddies and enjoy the end of the game.

RELATED: Holiday Packing 101: How to Travel Home for the Holidays Like a Pro

The key is to select items you’re comfortable wearing more than once. Standard options such as sweaters, button down shirts, jeans, dresses, and skirts are best as you can mix and match them with ease. Wear one pair of shoes while you’re traveling and pack one pair into your luggage so you can swap them out accordingly. The same thing goes for your jackets — wear a dressy, cold-weather jacket over your clothes while traveling and pack a more comfortable option in with your luggage.

Pro-tip: roll your clothes instead of folding them to prevent your items from wrinkling and to save even more space in your suitcase.

Don’t Forget the Food!

You’re going to get hungry as you head home for the holidays. Before you go, pack yourself some snacks and sandwiches (depending on how far your cheap round trip flights are taking you). Be sure to select hearty items that keep you full for longer as this prevents you from binging on fast food while you’re traveling from point A to point B. It’s smart to pack a small thermal bag filled with small snacks into your suitcase – but remember to make sure you don’t pack any food that’s mostly liquid, like soup (or it’ll have to be in container under 3.5 ounces).

It’s also a good idea to bring some clean, empty containers with you to your Thanksgiving feast. Almost everyone cooks more than what’s needed and bringing your own containers ensures that you’ll be able to bring home leftovers of that sweet potato pie you love so much. Not only does it prevent waste, but it’ll keep you going for a few days once you get home. Just a few containers are usually enough (depending on how much you want to bring back) and there are even collapsible containers to help you save space … at least on the trip out.

Pack Now to De-Stress Later

As idyllic as the holidays usually sound, they are not always enjoyable. If you’re traveling for Thanksgiving and you know you’re going to interact with a family member you typically disagree with, prepare for these interactions in advance. The last thing you want to do is ruin your day by arguing with someone or by letting your stress level build to crippling heights. You can pack a few useful items to help avoid and deal with any unpleasantness.

Essentials that can go a long way include:

  • Aspirin
  • Chamomile tea
  • Headphones

So, if you feel yourself getting frustrated, you can step into the kitchen after dinner and boil some water to make your tea. Put your headphones on, select a song that always makes you happy, and slowly sip your chamomile tea before returning to the dinner table. Then if all else fails, take some aspirin and go for a walk around the neighborhood.

Have your own essential Thanksgiving travel tips for packing? Share them bellow in the comments!

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