This time of year is everyone’s favorites! The smell of freshly baked cookies, the way the city lights up, and the sound of carolers are just a few of the things we love around the holidays.
One of the things that never makes the list? Holiday travel. It can be exhausting and leave you looking and feeling like a mess in every way. That being said, here’s a guide to surviving holiday travel.
1. Travel mid-week. You’re more likely to find a cheaper seat on a Tuesday or Wednesday. Airfare tends to be more expensive on the weekends.
2. Check in online. Beat the long lines at the airport by checking into your flight 24 hours in advance. Most airlines will send an email informing you to check in to your flight. While you’re at it, print your boarding pass or have it queued onto your smartphone.
3. Find the right terminal. Before you get dropped off, know which terminal you are heading to. While some of the larger airports offer shuttles to take you in between terminals, not all of the little airports will. It can be a far distance in between terminals, and you want to avoid sprinting across the airport to the correct terminal.
4. Travel with only a carry on. Pack all of your important and valuable belongings into your carry-on. This includes items such as laptops, chargers, money, etc. In addition, pack an extra set of clothes and some hygiene items you’ll need for freshening up after a long flight. Sometimes the airport might lose or misplace your checked-in luggage, but if you’ve packed your carry-on appropriately, you’ll at least have your most important items and an extra pair of clothes to wear.
5. Bring an empty bottle. Buying water at the airport can be quite expensive and sometimes the water cups that the flight attendants give is not enough. Pack an empty water bottle so you can stay hydrated throughout your entire trip. Many airports offer filtered water stations that you can fill up once you’ve passed security.
6. Follow the liquids rule. When packing your liquid products, make sure to follow the 3-1-1 rule. 3.4 ounces or less, one bag, one person. All of your liquid items must be able to fit in a resealable quart sized ziploc bag. Remember, water is included in this rule.
7. Dress appropriately. Before you go through security, Transportation Security Administration officers will ask you to take off your shoes, remove over sized clothing, and empty your pockets of any metal objects you might have. Do your part to make security go as smoothly as possible by wearing shoes that slip on and off easily, taking off jackets and jewelry, emptying your pockets, and placing any extra objects on you into the security bins ready for screening.
8. Give yourself enough time to get through security. It’s suggested that you arrive at least 90 minutes early for domestic flights, and two hours before for international flights. Airports tend to be crowded around the holiday season, so prepare to wait in long lines to check in. Keep in mind that you will need to factor in extra time for checking in your luggage. If you plan on taking a shorter trip, consider only packing a carry-on so you can head straight to your boarding gates.
9. If you are running late, speak up. Being late happens even to the best of us. If you find that you’re cutting it close to your departure time, inform the nearest airport staff. While some staff members may ask for you personally, not all will. Some staff members will help expedite the check-in process and allow you to jump the queue.
10. Be prepared to board. Have your ID and boarding in hand or close enough where you can grab it at a moment’s notice. This does not mean having your boarding materials stowed away in your check-in bags or buried at the bottom of your bag.