Traveling is stressful. Do you have everything you need? Are you going to miss your flight? Is your suitcase overweight? Do you have enough cash? Where in the world did you leave your passport?
Traveling during the holidays can be even MORE stressful, as now you have to deal with huge crowds at the airport as well!
But wait, you’re in luck—if you follow these 5 tips, you’ll be able to fly this holiday season, and still retain an air of calmness. Breathe!
1.) Pack Light
Rookie mistake #1 is loading yourself down with cumbersome luggage. Not only will you risk being charged additional luggage fees, but when you’re rushing to your gate through a sea of cranky travelers, you’re going to regret bringing those six extra pairs of shoes! Don’t forget that for most of us, the holidays mean giving and receiving presents. If your bags are close to bursting on your way there, how are you going to get all your thoughtful gifts from loved ones back home? When packing, follow these simple Packing Pointers and you’ll be gliding through security in no time.
2.) Shop Smart, Shop Online
The holidays mean gift giving, which means either taking up precious space in your luggage with presents, or being the thoughtless family member who doles out gift cards. You don’t want either of those fates do you? (Bah, humbug!) Instead, do all of your holiday shopping online, and then, in lieu of having the gifts sent to you, have them sent directly to your destination!
If you’re heading home for the holidays, you can have gifts sent straight to your relative’s doorstep, with strict instructions not to peek! If you’d rather be a bit stealthier, many stores will allow you to buy a product online for in-store pick up with no additional shipping fee. So do your holiday shopping a few days before your arrival date, then swing by your local branch for pick up. Just make sure you set aside some time for gift-wrapping!
3.) Get TSA Pre-Checked
If you’re a frequent flyer, you may consider enrolling in the TSA pre-check program. This program allows certain low-risk flyers on partnering airlines to go through an expedited security screening line. TSA pre-check can be extra useful during the holidays when security lines are overwhelmed with the increased numbers of travelers. No longer will you have to parade around in your socks and dig out all of your electronics from your carry-ons. Keep your belt on and bring a full-sized water bottle through security. Enrollment is good for 5 years and the non-refundable application fee is $85. Totally worth it to never have to walk barefoot around LaGuardia ever again! (Right?)
4.) Bring Snacks
Bringing snacks is a game-changer, because no one can be in a bad mood when there are snacks, right? Hunger is a real thing, and you should avoid its onset at all costs. The lines at airport restaurants will be long, the food will be overpriced, and most likely not very nutritious. The increased volume of travelers paired with the wintry December weather will also mean there’s a good chance that your flight may be delayed.
So, do yourself a favor, throw some fruit and granola bars into your carry on, and watch someone else lose their seat at the gate, standing in line for a $10 hot dog! You’ll thank yourself for thinking of this tip as you sit back and munch on your trail mix!
5.) Bring Entertainment—Bonus Points if It’s Non-Electric
As mentioned above, delays happen. Especially when weather is not optimal and airports have increased their flights to keep up with the holiday demand. Be prepared for the worst. A snow storm might have you grounded for what feels like ages, and runway traffic might have you sitting on the tarmac for hours. The best way to get through the endless waiting is to distract yourself.
Smartphones, tablets, and laptops are great devices to have on hand to keep you from staring at the clock, but you don’t want to run your battery down before take off, right? While many airport terminals now have charging stations available, you’ll be vying for a plug with hundreds of travelers who are hunkered down in the airport too. Investing in some battery-free entertainment options will go a long way. Reading a book is a tried and true classic, but you can also consider more creative ways of entertaining yourself. Maybe play a game of Eye Spy, or try out an adult coloring book? Writing a travel journal is also a great way to pass the time, and great fun to read back in years to come!
Going home for the holidays can be stressful—but it doesn’t have to be. When your phone dies during your 3-hour delay, take a deep breath, remember our tips, and enjoy the most wonderful time of year!
Do you have any trusty travel tips for getting through the holiday travel season, regret free? Let us know in the comments!