Gerri Willis Commentary:
Top Tips by Gerri Willis Column archive

Have a hassle-free holiday

Know how to safely travel during one of the busiest days of the year.

By Gerri Willis, CNN

NEW YORK ( -- It's going to be the busiest Thanksgiving travel period ever. There will be 25 million people taking to the skies and over 38 million hitting the highways.

Here's what need to know to skirt holiday travel stress.

1: Know the Rules

Security lines at airports are probably going to be longer than usual. That's because all the new TSA rules can be confusing to travelers. Of course, what's confiscated at one airport may not be detected at others. So, it's smart to know all the rules.

For example, if you want to bring liquid, gel or aerosols inside your carry-on luggage, you will need to put it in a clear plastic bag. The container holding the liquid can't be larger than three ounces. It doesn't matter if the liquid inside is two ounces or even one ounce, it will be confiscated if it's in a container that's larger than three ounces.

Of course, if you want to play it safe or you have larger quantities of liquids or gels, you can still pack them into your checked luggage. To brush up on what is and is not permitted on board, check the TSA Web site at

2: Keep a list

About 30 million pieces of luggage will be lost or stolen on flights this year worldwide, according to a new study by SITA, a research firm that tracks baggage information.

It's no secret that mishandled baggage is on the rise. So, before you even zip that luggage up, make sure you make a list of everything you've packed and keep it on your person.

If your luggage is lost, you'll have to file a claim that includes an itemized list of what's in your bags. You may also want to keep those more expensive items out of your bag. For domestic travel, airlines will only reimburse you for up to $2,800 a passenger.

3: Give your car the once-over

There's nothing that can add to your stress like having a break-down on the way to Grandma's. Before you even pull out of the driveway, give your car a once-over.

Check your tire pressure. A tire pressure that isn't inflated to capacity can cause blow-outs on the highway. Check your car's battery, especially if you're traveling to a colder climate. Batteries tend not to give any warning before they die. But if you don't know how old your battery is, think about replacing it before you leave. It may only cost you about $50.

Finally, check your roadside assistance policy...just for that added piece of mind.

4: Skirt the Jams

Gas prices are up - again. Prices at U.S. pumps rose about $.05 cents a gallon over the past two weeks, according to a survey released Sunday. So don't waste that precious fuel sitting in traffic.

Log onto and you'll be able to see any congestion or accidents that will clog your route. You can even input your travel route and have traffic alerts sent to your cell phone or your PDA. Or, just call 1-866-MY-TRAFC for real time traffic info.

5: Escape it all

If you find you need a vacation to recover from the holidays, it'll be a good time to take advantage of the travel industries' "Dead Weeks". You'll be able to get great deals after Thanksgiving and New Years until about mid-January, according to highlights destinations like London, Cancun and Florida. Don't worry folks, there IS a light at the end of the tunnel.


Gerri's Mailbox: Got questions about your money? We want to hear them! Send e-mails to or click here - each week, we'll answer questions on CNN, Headline News and  Top of page

Follow the news that matters to you. Create your own alert to be notified on topics you're interested in.

Or, visit Popular Alerts for suggestions.
Manage alerts | What is this?