Traveling during the holidays can either be a joyful vacation or a stressful disaster, and the primary force separating those two extremes is your level of preparation. Holidays are the most popular time to travel, which means longer lines for airport security, more regular flight delays, and lost baggage. In order to ensure that your holiday travel is as relaxing as possible, here are our top 6 holiday travel tips lead you to a stress-free vacation.
1. Leave Yourself Extra Time
a. Getting to the airport and getting through security often takes longer during holidays than the rest of the year, so save yourself extra time in case of traffic or long security lines. We typically recommend arriving at the airport an hour and a half before your flight departure for domestic flights and 2 hours for international flights. During the holidays, we suggest adding an additional 30-minute buffer to get to your terminal.
2. Check Your Flight Status Ahead of Time
a. Before leaving for the airport, check online to make sure that your flight isn’t delayed. A quick Google search of your flight number will typically reveal whether or not your flight is on time.
3. Make Sure You’re Insured
a. Imagine that you come down with a horrible fever the night before your flight. Missing the beginning of your trip certainly isn’t ideal, but imagine having to pay for another last-minute plane ticket and doubling, if not tripling, the total cost of travel for the trip. With trip insurance, you can at least ensure that you are reimbursed for the cost of your flight. Trip insurance can cover everything from trip interruption to lost baggage and is a smart investment for any form of travel.
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4. Ship Gifts Instead of Bringing Them as Luggage
a. One of the most common issues that we hear about during the holidays relates to traveling with presents. Many individuals decide to bring gifts in their luggage only to discover upon arriving at their destination that the presents were damaged. Items in your luggage bag face a difficult journey from the time that you arrive at the airport until the time that you arrive at your destination, and broken luggage items are not uncommon. On top of that, many travelers packing gifts will also arrive at their destination only to find that their gifts have been opened. TSA personnel have an obligation to inspect any items that they feel may contain illegal goods, which often results in wrapped gifts being opened and inspected.
5. Book Your Flight (Far) in Advance
It’s no secret that traveling during the holidays can be expensive. Two of the best ways to minimize the cost of holiday travel are to book your flight as far in advance as possible and to travel on off-peak days. For example, booking a flight on the 22nd or 23rd of December is going to be a fraction of the price of booking a flight on the 24th.
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6. Plan Extra Time for Layovers
There are few things more frustrating than missing a connecting flight. Missing a connecting flight to see your family for Christmas brings a whole new level of frustration. 30-60 minutes may be enough time for a domestic connection flight during most times of the year, but we suggest doubling that time during the holidays to account for any flight delays that may occur.
Before leaving for your trip, you should also consider packing the following items in your carry-on bag:
- An empty water bottle (to be refilled after security)
- Airborne or Emergen-C (for preventing sickness while flying)
- Emergency set of clothes (in case of lost luggage)
- Your favorite snack (because who doesn’t love snacking on an airplane?)
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Keeping these six ideas in mind should leave you well equipped to enjoy your holiday travels. Have other suggestions of how to improve this list? Tweet at us with any suggestions and we will gladly add them.