Holiday Travel Tips

Holiday Travel Tips

Holiday travel can be a bit stressful.  Long lines, anxious attitudes, delayed flights – you get the picture.  It’s also a time of joy, kindness, and hope.  The best of humanity can be seen in the midst of holiday stress.

In a nutshell: Whether you’re traveling to be with family or a beach destination … Plan ahead, be prepared and bring a checklist to help you navigate through holiday travel.  Dasher and Dancer aren’t available…..

Pre-travel day:  Take time to plan ahead

Being prepared for (nearly) anything will leave you feeling more in control and ready for the inevitable curve-balls.

  • If you have a smartphone (you do, don’t you?) be sure you have your airline’s official app as you’ll have your itinerary and boarding passes at your fingertips, and can be notified immediately of any flight changes. Another great smartphone travel app we recommend is TripIt, but if you don’t want more apps, then be sure to send a copy of your airline confirmation via text or email to your smartphone.
  • Reconfirm your flights the night before you depart, and as soon as you awaken on departure day as last-minute flight changes are common.
  • Be sure to have a back-up plan in case your flight is cancelled. Search alternate flights and list your 1st, 2nd, 3rd choice and have that list handy in case you need it.
  • Ensure you have handy all important phone numbers: airline, ground transfers, resort/hotel, etc.
  • Prepare snacks to take with you.  Energy bars, nuts, a sandwich. Your tummy will be happy…and so will your mood.
  • Bring an empty water bottle – and fill at a water station or fountain after you clear the security checkpoint.

Pack Light

Consider shipping your gifts and maybe some of your heavier clothing.  By using those nifty travel cubes helps you get everything in your carry on and then you don’t have the stress of wondering if your checked bag made the connection (and you’ll avoid those checked bag fees, too!).

Here’s a handy-dandy Packing List you can download! »Printable Packing List

What about those gifts?

While you can wrap your gifts per TSA, but keep in mind that they may ask to inspect them, which means being pulled aside at the security checkpoint and un-wrapping them, so it’s best to pack them unwrapped and make them beautiful when you arrive at your final destination.  You can reduce stress even more by considering gift cards, which make great gifts too – especially for the ‘hard to shop for’ folks.

Be Tech Savvy

Stay connected to the apps that will help you navigate your way.

  • FlightAware
  • TSA app – here you can check on delays, weather, how busy the airport is, what you can carry on, and more.
  • Your Airline’s app: American, Delta, Southwest
  • If you’re traveling internationally, TSA offers a Mobile Passport Control app to help you speed your way through customs on your way home.
  • Check out the TripIt Pro phone app: It’s $49 annually and TripIt Pro quickly locates alternate flights (along with other great benefits) but even their free version is very useful for organizing all your travel details and confirmations.
  • Mindfulness app – Inscape. Travel can be stressful. When you need a few minutes to relax and clear your mind….meditate! Don’t forget your earphones.

Travel Day – Hip hip, hooray!

  • Get to the airport early – we recommend 3 hours (because since holidays are the most popular time of year to travel, you’ll likely encounter long lines at the security checkpoints) but at least no less than 2 hours before your flight.
  •  Leave home earlier than it usually takes you to get to the airport, to stay ahead of traffic, delays, poor road conditions due to weather, parking challenges, etc.
  • Find out where your plane is. Go to FlightAware and find out if your plane is on schedule and will be waiting for you to board, or not.
    • If your flight is canceled – immediately call the airline and then:
      • Speak calmly & smile – screaming won’t help (and won’t make a gate agent want to help you)
      • Be firm but polite – and know what you want (they need a good reason not to give it to you)
      • Think about your luggage – if you checked bags, head to the baggage area (but, be on the phone at the same time)
      • This is also a good time to take out the list you brought of your 1st, 2nd, 3rd choice of alternate flights

TSA Security Tips

  • Consider wearing slip-on shoes vs boots – unless it’s snowing – then wear the boots.
  • Did you know that you could tweet TSA if you have a question about what is allowed in your carry-on, checked bag, etc.? Tweet @AskTSA and there’s also a free MyTSA app with a really cool “Can I bring” feature.
  • Be proactive and get ready for your turn by emptying your pockets, removing your electronics – laptop, iPad, Kindle Fire, etc.
  • Pay attention and listen to the TSA agents as they may direct you to a short line or give you or your traveling companions other guidance.
  • Speed up the TSA line, enroll in TSA Precheck, and to speed your return home to the U.S. through Border Control, enroll in Global Entry or try Mobile Passport (it’s free and on our list of best smartphone travel apps).

Don’t Miss:

1 Bag, 2 Weeks: Living out of a Carry-On
Pros and Cons of Holiday Season Travel

More Reading:

On Fly Like Rudolph for the Holiday Season

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About Donna Adinolfi 248 Articles
Donna Adinolfi is a wellness travel expert, a freelance writer, an award-winning photographer, and the founder/publisher of Her 30+ year career includes serving as the Travel & Spa Editor of Balance Magazine as well as planning wellness travel & retreats. An avid fan of the freedom from carrying cash or credit cards, Donna loves to visit all-inclusive wellness resorts in the U.S, and traveling to some of Mexico's and the Caribbean's many all-inclusive resorts several times each year. She's also a member of the North American Travel Journalists Association.
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