It's common knowledge that Thanksgiving can be one of the busiest times of the year for the travel industry. Traveling for business during this time can be more stressful than usual, especially if you've got a last-minute business trip to plan and take. Fortunately, there are a few strategies you can use to help you manage your trip, stay productive, and stay sane during the holiday season.

Here are a few things to consider when flying and/or driving for business travel this Thanksgiving holiday. 

Be an early bird.

If you need to fly or are driving around Thanksgiving, there are certain days and times to aim for in order to avoid any travel nightmares. If you can, avoid traveling on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and the Sunday after Thanksgiving. Both of these days tend to be the busiest for flying as well as heavy for traffic.

The more flexible you can be, the better. Play around with the dates. If you can leave early in the week and return that Wednesday after Thanksgiving weekend (or even early on Black Friday), you may save a bit of money. 

You may also want to consider alternate airports that are maybe located on the outskirts of a city. 

Try to book the earliest flights possible. While booking them between August and mid-September is usually ideal, business travelers don't always have the luxury of advanced notice. Still, business travelers can take advantage of tools that track flight prices and even advise when to book, such as the ones Google, Kayak, and Hopper offer. 

Plan around high-traffic times. 

If you are driving, avoid Wednesday afternoon, particularly between 3-4 pm. According to a study conducted by Google Maps, this is the worst time for travelers to be on the road. However, by early morning on Thanksgiving Day, the traffic will be much more manageable. 

Roads tend to be clearer on Thanksgiving, save for areas near parade routes. People tend to travel in the afternoon on the Friday after Thanksgiving as well as on Sunday after the holiday. Avoid this by leaving early.  

If you want to take it a step further, Google Maps shows what restaurants, attractions, and shopping places in 25 U.S. cities tend to see the most traffic during the holiday weekend. 

For instance, according to their research, the most searched for attraction in New York during Thanksgiving week is the Statue of Liberty while the most searched for restaurant in San Francisco is Mozzeria. It may be helpful to check, especially if your business will be in a high-traffic or tourist-heavy area of the city.

Stick to one airline.

Regardless of when you book, taking an early flight may give you more options should a flight get delayed or canceled. 

Also, try to avoid booking flights through different airlines. Instead, stick to one airline and give yourself extra time by taking the flight with the long layover. This way, if there is any delay or cancelation, they will be able to get you onto another flight so that you get to your destination. 

If you are taking multiple flights and have the option of a layover at a smaller airport, go with that option as it will likely have fewer delays than some of the big airports. It goes without saying but avoiding some of the worst airports for business travelers is a good idea.

Pack light. Try to stick to a carry-on.

Give yourself the gift of flexibility by packing light and sticking to a carry-on. This way, if a flight gets canceled or delayed, you have everything you need with you and lessen the chances of your luggage getting stuck somewhere else. The last thing you'll want to do is wait around for luggage, especially if you aren't staying long.

Use a travel credit card with travel protections.

Book and pay for your travels with a premium travel credit card in order to add extra travel protection to your trip. This way, you may get reimbursed for major delays, lost luggage, and cancelations. Plus, depending on your card, you may have benefits like airport lounge access which can be a nice respite while traveling through crowds.

By giving yourself extra time, packing light, and being prepared, you can have successful business travels.

Published on: Nov 20, 2019
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.