This is the best time to book your Thanksgiving and Christmas flights

When it comes to booking a budget-friendly flight, there’s lots of conflicting advice out there—even the best day to buy a plane ticket seems to change fairly often. You don’t want to book too early or too late, but it’s hard to hit the bull’s-eye on the perfect happy medium that’ll get you the best price.

The holiday season can be particularly stressful because it seems like everyone is traveling and trying to get somewhere. Fortunately, the experts over at Expedia crunched some numbers to find the best day to click “buy,” for your flights for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

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Foods you should never buy at the airport
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Foods you should never buy at the airport

Soft pretzels

“A big old soft pretzel is not a meal,” says registered dietitian Marjorie Nolan Cohn, owner of MNC Nutrition in Philadelphia. Those fluffy carbs might smell enticing, but carbo-loading before a long flight will leave your tummy rumbling again by takeoff. Look for something with protein and fiber that will keep you satisfied until you land, or better yet, pack a meal from home. Nolan Cohn recommends making a sandwich at home to save money or packing leftovers like pasta salad or grilled chicken in an old, washed plastic container, such as a cottage cheese tub.

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Guilty pleasures

Try not to lump your waiting time at the airport in with the “treat mentality” of the rest of your vacation, says registered dietitian nutritionist Libby Mills, founder of Dig In Eat Up. “Even though it might be the kickoff to vacation, you want to save those calories for something unique when you arrive,” she says. Skip the specialty coffee drink and stick with plain coffee if you need a caffeine fix, or leave room for ice cream at the beach instead of gobbling a bag of cookies at the airport. Don’t miss these other 15 secrets to staying healthy on vacation.

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Parfaits

You’ve seen yogurt touted time and time again as one of the healthiest snacks you can get, thanks to its satiating protein. But that fruit and yogurt parfait isn’t the healthy and fresh choice that it seems. “Yogurt has its halo over it as a healthy food, and obviously it is, but in context of what additives are in it,” says Nolan Cohn. By the time you turn plain yogurt into a sugary flavored yogurt topped with granola and fruit (which, unlike fresh berries, is full of added sugar), it isn’t a healthy choice anymore, she says. Skip the parfait and choose a regular yogurt from the fridge, or try these 19 nutritionist-approved travel snacks you can buy anywhere.

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Sugary yogurts

Even yogurts that aren’t covered in granola or chocolate chips can be a stealthy sugar bomb. Fruit-on-the-bottom varieties are “not really fruit—it’s more like jelly,” says Nolan Cohn, and the dessert-like flavors and toppings can have almost as much sugar as the treats they’re named after. A cup of unflavored Greek yogurt is a safe bet, but if you need something less tart, vanilla varieties tend to have a bit less sugar than the fruity ones, she says. Try these other 13 healthy tricks for actually losing weight on vacation.

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Granola bars

Granola bars are often designed to look like a smart choice, but there’s more than meets the eye. “Some are like candy bars in a really strategic marketing package to make it look like something way healthier than it is,” says Nolan Cohn. Granola bars can be packed with added sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, and other decidedly unhealthy ingredients, especially if they’re covered in a waxy (and melty) coating. That said, a shelf-stable, portable snack is convenient when you need to take the hunger off during your travels, so hunt down an option with 12 or fewer grams of sugar, she says. Check out these other 10 ways to eat healthy on vacation.

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Coffee

A cheap, low-calorie cup of coffee might seem like the perfect treat while you’re waiting, but you might regret it once you’re seated. “Coffee has caffeine and can agitate the nerves, which might not make for the most relaxing flight,” says Mills. Plus, if coffee goes through you fast, you could end up making multiple bathroom dashes, she points out. Try a calming herbal tea instead, Mills suggests.

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Large bar tab

While a glass of wine as you wait for your flight won’t do much harm for most people, you’ll want to keep your drinking to a minimum. Not only could it dehydrate you before an already dehydrating plane ride, but alcohol isn’t good for deep sleep. You might crash quick, but the alcohol will wake you up and keep you out of deep REM sleep as your liver works it out. “A less restful trip, especially if you’re going overseas, may be counterproductive to enjoying yourself fully when you arrive,” says Mills.

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Double-decker sandwiches

You might not have too many choices at a quick-grab sandwich station, but keep your calories in check by avoiding excessive fillings, says Mills. “If it has triple layers of meat or bread, that’s a tipoff that you’re getting triple servings,” she says. “‘Crispy,’ breaded,’ and ‘fried’ … are words on a menu that are tipoffs of an extra serving of carbohydrates, plus the extra fat.” 

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Water bottles

You might not want to rely on the bottled water from the airport terminal—and not just because of its sky-high prices. Normally we’d never discourage some good-for-you hydration, but hear us out if you have a small bladder. “You’re guzzling water before getting on the plane, then sharing a toilet with how many people?” says Nolan Cohn. Because hydration is important, especially when you’re stuck in a dry plane cabin, she recommends sipping extra water the night and morning before your flight so you aren’t dehydrated when you board. Especially if your flight is more than a couple hours, though, don’t ignore your thirst in the name of avoiding the bathroom, she says.

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Anything your stomach isn't used to

When you’re about to sit in close quarters for hours on end, you’ll want to avoid foods that don’t tend to sit well with your digestive system. Steer clear of foods that normally might upset your stomach, such as certain types of fiber or greasy foods. “A hamburger and French fries or fried chicken before you get on a plane might not be the best idea,” says Nolan Cohn. “They have a higher potential for triggering diarrhea or GI issues.”

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Thanksgiving falls on Thursday, November 28, in 2019. Using data from 2018, the website predicts the cheapest days to book for Thanksgiving will be between October 29 and November 13. “Booking two weeks to a month in advance of travel saved travelers more than five percent [last year],” Expedia advises. As for the dates you choose to fly, flying on the 28th itself will give you the cheapest rates—an average of $100 less than tickets for the Sunday before. If actually flying on Thanksgiving isn’t an option, look to the Monday and Tuesday before for the next-cheapest rates. Avoid the Wednesday, the season’s busiest travel day! Avoiding hectic days like this is one of the holiday travel tips that will save your sanity.

If you’re planning on taking a Christmas trip instead, book at least two weeks ahead to save around 15 percent. The window they recommend the most is between November 23 and December 9—early, but not too early. (They claim that booking more than three months beforehand will cause you to spend 15% more.) And when to fly? Christmas Eve tends to have the best rates, with Christmas itself (a Wednesday) or the 23 also being strong contenders. They recommend avoiding the Saturday before Christmas, December 21. And if you love the idea of taking a trip around the holidays, consider these cheap trips to squeeze in before the holiday season!

The post This Is the Best Time to Book Your Thanksgiving and Christmas Flights appeared first on Reader's Digest.

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11 Foods And Drinks To Avoid Before Flying
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11 Foods And Drinks To Avoid Before Flying

In order to avoid "jet bloat" and make your next voyage more pleasant, we at The Daily Meal have picked out 11 foods and drinks you might want to hold off eating until your flight has landed. So before heading to the airport next time, click through our slideshow and get tips on how to be smart about you travel-day snacking.

Image Credit: Shutterstock

French Fries

French fries might be a quick and easy snack to grab at the airport, but fried foods are not our digestive system's best friend. At a high altitude, our body’s ability to process high-fat and high-sodium foods becomes even worse, easily leading to bloating and discomfort.

Image Credit: Shutterstock

Apples

Though fruits in general are healthy snack choices, apples or other fibrous fruits are not easy to digest, and can lead to gas and bloating.

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Beans

Beans are probably one of the most obvious culprits when it comes to gas-causing foods. Save the bean burrito for a post-landing meal for a more comfortable flight.

Image Credit: Shutterstock

Carbonated Soft Drinks

Carbonated drinks can cause gas and heartburn, both of which are unpleasant feelings to have during a flight. Switch the can of Coke for a bottle of cold water, or calming herbal tea.

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Hot Peppers

Especially for the more sensitive eater, spicy food can cause stomach discomfort and bladder irritation. To respect your neighboring passenger, avoiding hot peppers might also be a smart choice, as eating a hot meal also can cause bad breath.

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Chewing Gum

While chewing gum can help your ears pop after takeoff and landing, constant chewing also lets extra air into your body, causing bloating and gas.

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Sugar-Free Candy

Synthetic sugars used in sugar-free candy are often not easily processed by our bodies, causing bloating, gas, and even a laxative effect.

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Cruciferous Vegetables

Being in high altitude can itself lead to an uncomfortable, bloated feeling, as the air pressure is different from what the human body is used to. To avoid further bloating, skip the broccoli, cauliflower and other cruciferous vegetables during preflight meal

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Coffee

Coffee has a dehydrating effect on the body, and combined with the dry airplane air, this easily causes your body to become dehydrated, leading to headache and nausea. You might also want to avoid caffeine, as it can prevent you from taking a relaxing in-flight nap.

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Alcohol

Afraid of flying? Well, having that preflight cocktail to calm your nerves might actually do more harm than good. Like coffee, alcohol has a dehydrating effect on the body, and can cause headaches, nausea and discomfort on the plane.

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Cheeseburger

A juicy cheeseburger might be a tempting preflight indulgence, but fatty and high-sodium foods are even harder to process at high altitude, easily causing bloating and an upset stomach. Sitting still in a pressurized cabin also slows blood flow, and the addition of saturated fat from fast food such as burgers can further hinder blood flow and increase your risk for deep vein thrombosis (DVT).

Image Credit: Shutterstock

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