Travel Tips: Easier Holiday Travel
During peak holiday travel times, the most difficult times you will face lie on this side of the security check-in. From not giving yourself enough time to traffic jams to full parking lots and long lines everywhere you turn. These 10 tips will help provide you with easier holiday travel.
Pick Your Seat in Advance
Most airlines in the US now allow for you to pick your seat assignment in advance at the time you purchase your ticket. Take full advantage of this and get your seat locked into place at booking time. At the holidays, planes fill up even faster and many times, are oversold. If you wait until you check-in to pick your seats you are taking a gamble on getting to sit with your travel companions or getting your desired seat type.
Be Smart When Packing
During holiday travel, it’s important to pack lightly and wisely. Start with a packing list to make sure you don’t forget anything. With so much going on during the holidays it’s easy to forget an item or two. If checking baggage, pack your essentials in your carry-on. You’ll be thankful to have an ample supply of your medication, a change of clothes, and your valuables in your carry-on should anything happen to your checked luggage. Don’t fall prey to overweight baggage fees and be sure to weight your luggage before you leave the house. Pay for your checked bags on-line before you print up your boarding passes to save more time at the airport. Once all packed, lock your bags with a TSA approved lock.
Ship Gifts or Give Gift Cards
We like to do as much in advance, as possible. Back in the day, we would pre-wrap our gifts before we would fly anywhere for the holidays. Now with TSA not wanting you to pack wrapped gifts in your luggage, doing so runs the risk of all of your gifts being unwrapped. To not waste time and save room in your luggage, ship your gifts in advance to your destination. If you don’t have time to do that or don’t want to, bring everyone gift cards, instead. They are easy to pack and barely take up any room.
Print Your Boarding Passes in Advance
Checking-in on-line for your flight and printing your boarding passes at home, will save you all kinds of time even before you get to the airport. While you are at it, sign up for text alerts to be notified by your airline of any changes to your flight.
Don’t Drive Yourself
Airport parking lots fill up quickly around the holidays. Drive yourself and you risk the chance of having no where to park when you arrive. Many airports parking lots raise the prices due to demand for parking spaces during this time of year. Save yourself some time, stress, and money by having a friend drop you off at the airport. Don’t have someone who can take you? Call a cab, shuttle van, or public transportation- all options that will cost less and be less stressful that driving yourself.
Instead of striving to arrive at the airport early, your focus should be on leaving earlier for the airport (or train or bus station). Anticipating ahead of time that you will most likely encounter delays along the way, will help you get there with enough time to check-in, get through security, and make your flight.
This one may sound obvious, but it’s especially important during the holidays to leave as much extra time as you can for the seasonal travel madness. It doesn’t matter how much you plan in advance, if you don’t get there early, you risk the change of missing your flight. You can pretty much count on that with traffic and long lines that if you don’t arrive early, you may not get to your gate in time. The holidays are crazy enough; don’t add to them by missing your flight or having to make a mad dash through the airport.
Avoid Delays When Going Through Security
Getting through security quickly these days is just about impossible, but there are a few things you can do to move through more effectively. Make sure all of your needed documents (ID, passport, proof of immunizations, etc.) are up to date, nothing has expired, and they are easily accessible to you at security. Wear shoes and clothing that is easy to remove. Take your laptop out of its bag. Make sure you follow the 3-1-1 liquid rule with ALL liquids and gels you have in your carry-on, even gifts. Regularly fly and want to move through security even quicker? Sign-up for TSA Pre Check to speed through domestic security lines without taking off your shoes and clothing items.
Don’t Go Hungry
No one needs to get hungry while traveling. It can lead to getting in the wrong line, not being able to focus, and being snappy with others. Plan ahead by packing some healthy snacks like Kind Bars in your carry-on bag to keep your blood sugar in check and to be able to fuel up along the way.
Plan for the Unexpected
Inevitably, holiday travel doesn’t always go as planned. Accept now that this may happen and make a plan in advance to be prepared for the inevitable. Anticipating the stressful situations that can happen during holiday travel will greatly reduce your stress if they do happen. Don’t schedule connections with an hour or less in-between flights. Allow extra time for dealing with traffic, long lines, and security. Pack snacks and a re-fillable water bottle, in case your flight gets delayed. If driving, pack tire chains for snow, flashlights, and a first aid kit.
Do you have any additional travel tips for easier holiday travel?
All photography by Kimmy Hayes © 2013.