When people tell you they are flying over the holiday season, don’t you just chuckle slightly and say, “Why are you doing that to yourself?” It’s true - the holidays seem like the worse time to fly. The number of people getting from Point A to Point B increases drastically. A lot of people who book flights during the holiday season fly so infrequently they don’t seem to understand how airports work.
Don’t worry. We have some helpful tips to avoid the stress and craziness that occurs at airports during the holidays. Disclaimer: these tips are not 100% effective in eliminating unwanted stress, but they should help a little.
Plan buffer days and avoid peak flight times.
Yes. You could save some vacation days by leaving the day before the holiday and returning the day after. But why risk it? Bad weather happens at all times during the year, but there is an increased probability of a winter storm affecting air travel. Give yourself an extra day or two when you’re traveling in the winter. Those extra days could be the difference between a travel delay or a trip cancellation.
Avoid extra stress by picking flights at odd hours. Sure, getting up before dawn is rough on everyone. You’ll be happy when you fly through security without scream children and infrequent travelers.
Ship your holiday gifts before you leave.
With luggage fees these days, you’ll be happy you don’t have to check an extra bag (or check a bag at all!). Although it’s not always the case, you could probably even save a bit of money on airline fees if you ship your gifts prior to leaving! Or - think even smaller and just get your family and friends gift cards for the holiday!
Double check what you packed in your carry on!
Ok, you’ve successfully shipped most of your holiday gifts and you are planning on traveling with only a carry on - good idea! Now, double check that bag! We’ve heard and seen so many people get caught at the security checkpoint with large size shampoo bottles, Swiss Army Knives they keep on them every day, and even bottles of wine they were planning on gifting to someone.
It happens. So avoid losing your belongings or having to run back to the flight desk to check your bag. Review the TSA guidelines for carry on items and be sure you don’t actually need to check that bag!
Monitor your flight information and traffic reports.
Nothing adds to the stress of the holidays more than the timing of arriving to the airport. Do you go two hours early? What time do you need to leave your house? There are several smartphone travel apps that can help you with all of these questions.
Be sure to check the traffic reports and be aware of what time you’re traveling to the airport. If you have to travel during rush hour - allot for extra time to get to the airport. Also, you can check the current wait time for security checkpoints at the airport you’re traveling through.
Bring your holiday cheer wherever you go.
If you are ready for delays, bad weather and grumpy people, you will probably find that traveling through the holiday season was easier than you expected. Travel with a smile and a light heart. Oh, and headphones. When all else fails, you can fade into your favorite playlist to escape it all.