Whether you're driving a few hours to visit family, or escaping for a Tanzania safari, travel during the holidays can be difficult to say the least. This is the time of year with the greatest chance for travel to go wrong. It’s the most crowded, chaotic, and expensive time of year for trips. While some difficulties are unavoidable, here are a few tips to help you avoid some of the headaches encountered during holiday travel.
Book in Advance
Contact a travel agent to book your holiday travel in advance. This will allow you to secure your hotel rooms and get the lowest priced airfare. Keep in mind prices will generally rise during the holiday season, with the high demand. For some airlines and accommodations, booking early may help you qualify for a discount.
With the rising baggage fees and the hassle of checking your bag during the holiday season, it may be beneficial to travel with just a carry on if possible. Some airlines place special restrictions during the holidays and allow only one carry-on. So, if you need to check a bag, make sure it is less than 50 pounds to avoid additional fees. Avoid being the frazzled, stressed-out family unpacking and reorganizing their bags in the check-in line. Keep your things in order and ease the check-in process by printing your boarding pass before leaving for the airport and knowing the carry on restrictions. Liquids must be kept in containers of 3 ounces of less, the containers must be in 1 clear quart size zip lock bag, and only 1 bag is allowed per person. Flying may mean taking public transportation. By packing light you avoid the frustration of carry around a heavy suitcase or two.
Avoid Peak Travel Days
The busiest days to fly are the day before and the day after the actual holidays. Try to book flights two plus days before and after Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s. Flying on the actual holiday can also save you some time and money.
Plan to be at the airport two hours early during peak holiday travel times. Since everyone is traveling during the holidays you may experience traffic jams and long lines. Avoid the stress of being late by giving yourself plenty of time at the airport should you encounter longer than average wait times.
Keep your essential items in your carry on, including medications and valuables. During the holidays you’ll often experience delays which can cause your bags to be delayed or lost, leaving you without your luggage for several days. You should also keep copies of your travel documents in a safe place. If the originals are lost, if can be especially difficult to get copies during the holiday season when offices often have limited hours and staff.
Check Your Flight Status in Advance
Ever left for the airport with plenty of time to spare only to find out your flight is delayed several hours, or worse, cancelled? Be sure to check your flight status before heading out the door. Winter weather often causes delays.
Don’t Put Wrapped Gifts in Your Carry On
Some wrapped gifts may need to unwrapped if the screeners detect something suspicious. Avoid this hassle by putting wrapped gifts in your check on bag, or by mailing them. This will also help avoid slowing down the already long security lines.
Plan Connections Carefully
Ensure you have sufficient layover time to catch your next flight. You may want to make your connections in airports that are less likely to experience weather delays if possible, such as airports in warmer climates. You can help avoid delays by flying first thing in the morning (before delays across the country have had a chance to build up), taking nonstop flights, and traveling to less crowded airports.
Increase Exercise before Traveling
By incorporating exercise into your routine prior to the holidays you can help relieve stress, boost your immune system and improve your circulation, which will help while sitting on long drives or flights.
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