Surviving holiday flights... OK, surviving travel during any peak travel season... takes some thought and planning.
You know there are going to be crowds. There are probably going to be inexperienced travelers. That means lines will be long.
Go ahead and look for the lowest airfare, but often those come with plane changes and layovers.
The weather could be fine where you're departing and arriving... but you could get stuck in a snow storm where you change planes in between.
Weigh your options... is it really worth it to save a few bucks? Consider paying a little more for that non-stop flight...
Non-stop flights can make surviving holiday flights easier.
That leads us to... watch the weather.
You can't change the weather, but you can anticipate delays caused by bad weather... and if you're resourceful and lucky, you might be able to change your plans.
Expect long security lines.
The day before your flight (24 hours in advance), check in and pay for any checked luggage online. (Better yet, don't check any luggage at all. Try for carry-on only.)
Be prepared at security....
Help keep those lines shorter, and we'll all be surviving holiday flights more easily.
Have your ticket and ID handy at all times. Yes, you'll have to take your shoes off in the U.S., even in winter, so leave the lace-up boots at home or in your suitcase.
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Send gifts ahead... or shop and ship online.
If you do carry gifts with you, don't wrap them for carry-on. You may have to unwrap them, and that will create more stress!
If you're traveling with kids, keep them busy...
Pack puzzles, crayons, coloring books, or their own electronics.... but quiet ones please. Your fellow passengers will be much happier if there aren't all those bells and whistles!
Once you've checked in, walk around the airport.
Exercise can help reduce stress. Don't stray too far from your gate for too long though... you don't want to miss your flight! If there is a delay, the same thing applies.
BUT... Don't stray too far from the departure gate.
In rare instances, they may say there will be an hour delay... but the plane could be ready in a half hour. They WANT to get it out on time. Announced delays may be approximate. Be there.
Take the train or bus to the airport.
That can save stress and reduce your carbon footprint. Use off-airport parking if you must drive... you'll save money and avoid at least some of the traffic. Some off-airport lots will let you make reservations.
Try to plan for a day at home at the end of your trip.
You'll be less stressed not having to rush back to your routine, plus you'll have a built-in time buffer in case your return trip is delayed.
Take the train! If the option is available, short trips can be faster by train... Plus there are no security lines and fewer problems with weather.
Whether it's a major holiday or just the summer travel rush, plans for surviving those holiday flights will help you enjoy your trip.