The holidays are upon us, and for those of us traveling during this time, it can mean maneuvering crowded security lines, flight delays, and expensive ticket prices. Because holiday travel is notoriously stressful, we've put together a few tips to help you make it to your destination with holiday cheer to spare.
1. Arrive Early, Leave Late
Getting to the airport early is always a good idea, even more so during the holiday season. Even if you aren't checking a bag, be prepared to get there well ahead of your flight in case of delays in and out of the airport like traffic jams, TSA pileups, and long ticketing lines. One way to avoid some of the aforementioned hang ups is to leave late in the evening or take a red eye. The airport will be fully staffed by this time and generally these planes are less likely to be delayed or overbooked. You can also find better prices if you are willing to sacrifice some sleep to get there
2. Get Technical
Technology is a great tool to help busy travel days go more smoothly. There are plenty of apps and sites that help you make the most of your travel experience. Services like SkyScanner and Hopper are apps that allow you to track the cheapest dates to book a flight with a calendar view. They will also notify you when prices go down, and some even allow you to book flights right from the app! App in the Air is another free service that gives you updates about your flight, gate, and even maps the best route through the airport. Google Trips is another top notch app that gathers all your travel related info (flights, hotels, reservations) in one place, so your itinerary is one touch away at all times.
3. Pack Smart
Packing light is always a good idea, and that goes doubly if you are traveling during a busy time. Generally it's quicker (and cheaper) to bring just a carry-on. While it may seem impossible to fit everything you need into a small bag, it's not as difficult as you might think. Using a quality bag that has an expandable feature will allow you to fit more into less. You can also use space saver vacuum bags and compartments to make the most of your limited space. Check out this carry-on packing tutorial for more tips!
4. Gift Wisely
Bringing gifts along to the airport can be a hassle, especially if they are fragile or already wrapped. If you are buying online, consider shipping the gift straight to the recipient (many sites have gift options available.) If not, try to ship larger gifts via mail so you don't have to worry about everything fitting or your checked bag getting crushed en route.
5. Consider All Modes of Transport
If you are traveling cross country flying might be your only option. However, If your destination is within driving range, consider making a road trip out of it! Even though driving will take longer, it can often times be cheaper than flying, especially if you are traveling with a large family. You also don't have to pack as light, and there are no TSA restrictions to worry about. If you plan ahead, you can even make a couple stops along the way to check out landmarks and attractions while you stretch your legs. Train trips are another great option if you have the time. Not only do you not have to worry about driving, but they can be a relaxing and fun way to see the country while you get where you're going.
6. Be Prepared
Of course this one seems like a no-brainer, but the stress of holiday travel can make you forget or leave some details for the last minute. If possible, pack up everything the night before your trip and leave it by the door so you are ready to go. Make sure any devices are fully charged, movies and music fully downloaded, and snacks are packed ahead of time so you can get going with plenty of time to make your travel day a little less hectic.
7. Take Care
This is probably the most important tip on the list. The combination of stress, crowds, and dehydration from the airplane can take a big toll on your immune system. The last thing you want is to be sick over the holidays, so a little extra care beforehand can go a long way. Make sure you get a good nights sleep the day before you travel, because chances are you won't get the same quality of rest on a plane. Bring along some hand sanitizer or wipes to prevent unwanted germs and bacteria from the crowded spaces you'll be moving through. Most importantly, stay hydrated! Airplanes tend to dehydrate you, and making sure your body has enough water can go a long way toward keeping you healthy.