Long lines. Short tempers. Cramped planes. Backed-up highways. This may be billed as
“the most wonderful time of the year,” but the stress of traveling over the holidays can turn anyone into a Grinch. This week's Travel Tip is sharing a few common travel mistakes to steer clear of this season.
Avoid Traveling When Everyone Else Does
Planning on flying or driving home the day after a major holiday? Being flexible about your travel dates and times can help you avoid the worst of the crowds. The cheapest days to travel are on the holidays themselves. The first and last flights of the day are typically the least expensive since the average traveler would rather not wake up at 3am to catch a flight, or land at their destination after a red eye. Enduring early or late hours can save you money and time, plus the airport is often less busy during these off hours.
Avoid Flying With Wrapped Gifts
Your ultra-organized plan to wrap all your presents before you leave could backfire if airport security sees something suspicious on the X-ray and rips into your pristine wrapping job to take a closer look. Fortunately, there are a few ways to prevent this problem. You can put your items in gift bags that are easy for airport security officers to peek into, or stick to gift cards that don’t need to be wrapped. A third option is to simply buy everything online and have it shipped to your final destination to be wrapped there.
Avoid Planning Time As You Normally Would
Showing up at the airport 90 minutes before a flight might work out fine on a random Wednesday morning in April, but it’s not the best strategy when traveling during the holidays.
Consider adding at least 30 to 60 minutes to your normal pre-flight routine and taking steps to expedite your way through the airport. A few tactics include: reserve a spot in advance at an off-airport parking lot, register in a Trusted Traveler program, check in online 24 hours before your flight, and restrict your luggage to only a carry-on to bypass the checked-bag line. Take advantage of apps such as MiFlight which provides live security wait times, and download your airline's app to avoid having to keep track of multiple paper boarding passes while also getting updated gate information.
Avoid Over-Indulging Right Before You Fly
The holidays are all about eating, drinking, and making merry - but it’s best not to do these too excessively in the hours before your flight. A hangover is unpleasant enough on its own; suffering through it while crammed into an economy-class seat on a bumpy flight surrounded by strangers is misery. Bloating and indigestion after a rich holiday meal can be similarly uncomfortable. Avoid allowing anyone in your party to show up for the flight still inebriated; there are few easier ways to get booted off a plane.
Avoid Failing To Plan For Bad Weather
If there’s any chance of encountering a weather delay in your itinerary, you’ll want to have a backup plan in place just in case. Research alternative flights in case your original route is affected somewhere along the line. Save your airline’s phone number in your contacts so you can call immediately to rebook a separate flight if yours gets canceled. If you’re driving, check the weather in advance and consider traveling on a different day if your original departure date looks questionable.
Patience and flexibility are the first rules of traveling, and that's doubly so during the holidays. If you go into your trip expecting a few hiccups, they'll cause less stress if/when they happen - and you'll enjoy being pleasantly surprised if they don’t. Either way, we hope this season ends on a joyful note and continues into a safe and prosperous New Year for you.