Holiday season is a difficult time for travelers. It is a time of the year when airports, train stations, bus depots and other transportation hubs are filled with people, all of whom are headed to a destination for the holidays. Everyone is anxious and impatient, and people aren’t going to be good sports about any of the weather related or over booking issues that are virtually inevitable when it comes to holiday travel.
The only way to avoid the stress of traveling at this time is by knowing as much as possible in advance, and by using that knowledge to plan your trip more carefully. Here are ten tips that can help you avoid some of the potential inconveniences you may find yourself facing.
Be flexible about booking airline reservations
The more flexible you can be when flying, the easier things will be for you. Pick less popular times and days, and make sure you don’t travel on the heaviest travel days. If you have to connect to other flights, plan your original departure accordingly. Avoid booking a flight that will force you to take the last flight out when you are connecting. If the weather is bad, you may find yourself stranded.
Be careful how you pack
How you pack is crucial these days. First of all, you would be wise to weigh your suitcase before you go. If your suitcase weighs more than 50 pounds, you’ll be assessed a substantial charge for an overweight bag. Remember that you will have to pay to check bags, and while most airlines charge $25 for the first bag, they charge more for additional bags. That’s why you should opt for lightweight suitcases with more capacity. Packing light also has the added bonus of allowing greater mobility, making sightseeing and other activities much simpler. Restricting yourself to just a small wheeled suitcase and bringing only the essential items is an effective way to save time and money while traveling – after all, why drag around more than you need? You must ensure that you pack the business travel accessories that you need so that you don’t go without when you have work to do – this is especially important if you have a business trip to go on. You might consider ensuring that you are working if you need to rather than if you are on vacay!
You should also remember that you can’t have anything that is liquid, lotion, cream or gel in your carry on bag unless you pack them in a clear plastic one quart zip lock bag. You can carry three 3.4 ounce bottles in a bag, and each passenger is only allowed to carry one of these zip loc bags in their carry on luggage. Check the TSA3-1-1 website if you aren’t sure.
Be ready to go through the security checkpoint when you get there
Be sure you have your boarding pass and I.D. out so that you can get through the checkpoint faster. Wear shoes you can take off easily, and make sure that you don’t have any metal or jewelry on you or in your pockets because that may set the detectors off. You might want to carry your laptop in a case that is designed for the checkpoint.
Allow plenty of time to transfer flights
There is always a possibility that things can happen when you have to connect to another flight when traveling. During the holidays, between the large number of people traveling and possible weather situations, there are often delays. If you make sure that you leave plenty of time between connecting flights, you will be less likely to encounter problems reaching that second flight. Getting onto another flight because you missed a flight (regardless of whether it is your fault or the airline’s fault, or something unavoidable,) can be very difficult during the crowded holiday season
Prepare food to take with you
Airport food is very expensive, and unless you are flying in business or first class, you don’t get served on most domestic flights. Snacks can be purchased on the plane, but they are also expensive, and you can’t pay for your purchases with cash.
Avoid the traveling on the heaviest travel days
Avoid traveling on those days and at times when you know there is going to be the most traffic at the airport. With so many people traveling, the planes will be packed, there will be very little room for carry on luggage, and the likelihood that your luggage might get lost is far greater than it would be at another time.
Avoid traveling with gifts
Traveling with gifts can be tricky. If you pack them in your luggage, you will have no assurance that they will arrive at your destination without breaking. Baggage handlers are not careful with bags, so you are risking a lot by packing gifts in your luggage. You don’t want to put gifts in your carry on luggage – especially if they are wrapped because they will have to be screened. It may even be necessary for the TSA personnel to unwrap your gifts.
Leave early enough to arrive at the airport on time
Arriving at the airport at least 1 1/2 hours before your flight will ensure that you can get your baggage checked and that you can board the plane in plenty of time. During the holiday season, flights are often over booked, and arriving early enough will secure your seat.
Check in online
If you check in online, you can save yourself the trouble of having to wait in a long line. You will then be able to check your baggage in much faster.
Be sure you have a credit card or debit card
You will need to have a credit card to pay to check your luggage. If you purchase or plan to purchase food on a flight, you will need to have your credit or debit card because no cash is accepted on the plane.
Make sure you have entertainment and snacks for children
Travel is even more difficult for young children. Not only is it a strange new experience for them, but the changes in altitude can be very frightening for a child. Purchase some bottled water and fill a bottle or sippy cup so that they can swallow the water why the plain is ascending or descending.
Good holiday planning requires that you prepare yourself for any potential problem, inconvenience or delay. Pack for the appropriate climate. If you are going to a very warm climate, pack clothes for the warm climate, but make sure you have suitable clothing to wear for your return to cold weather.
Pack winter boots, gloves and hats if those things will be necessary. Make sure that you have money for anything you may need, and that you also have some way to hide extra cash so that it cannot be stolen from you. The more well prepared you are, and the more thoroughly you plan for anything and/or everything, the easier it will be for you to enjoy your trip, despite whatever inconveniences you may encounter along the way.