If anyone else has the unfortunate travel luck that I have you are probably already stressing over what is going to go wrong this holiday season. All we want to do is get home for the holidays safely and quickly to start eating those home cooked meals. The reality is, sometimes luck just isn’t on our side. Here are some travel tips to make your travel season a little smoother:
1. Time It Out
They always give you that suggested 2-hour window before your flight departs and somehow people always think it’s not needed. Take the extra time! You’re either going to be sitting in your room or sitting in the airport, so what could it hurt? You do not want to be at the security checkpoint with only 30 minutes until your flight leaves and 200 people in front of you in line. Save yourself the stress!
2. Pack Light
I am definitely a hypocrite when it comes to this statement and most people are, but it pays off. If you are one of those people that can somehow pack in only one suitcase–take advantage. Pack a carry-on size duffel and save the cost on baggage fees. Even if your bag is a little bigger than you think will be allowed, do not check it! If you get on the plane and it doesn’t fit in the overhead they will gate check it for you, for FREE! And don’t forget you technically get two carry-on bags (a carry-on and a purse).
3. 3 oz.
Check all of your liquids before you go to the airport. The last thing you need is to be pulled to the side in security because your bottle of lotion is 4 oz. If it’s against the TSA standards, don’t bring it! If there’s a question about it, leave it home. And don’t forget to throw out your water bottles before you get in the line!
Here’s the rule: if you do not want it stolen don’t put it in your checked baggage! Save yourself the trouble and just make room in your carry-on. The last thing you want to deal with when you unpack is your favorite diamond necklace or a priceless family heirloom missing. That goes for electronics too! I don’t care how well you think you can hide it, carry it!
None of us want to think about our luggage ending up in the wrong place but, reality check, millions of bags get lost every year, especially if you have connecting flights and during the holiday season when millions of people are traveling. Make sure you pack an extra set of clothes somewhere in your carry on bag. Even though you may never need it, better safe than sorry!
6. 24-hour Check In!
Make sure you take advantage of the 24-hour check in before your flight. It saves you time waiting in line at the check in counter. Make sure you have a nice, clear printout of your boarding pass and a good form of ID. No, your school ID card does not count! Have your driver’s license or passport with you. Having both gets you bonus points because sometimes they ask you for a second form of ID.
7. Flight Status
Check your flight status before you leave. You can check easily online or call the airline and ask. If your flight is delayed you do not want to be stuck in the airport for hours bored senseless. Don’t make the mistake and miss your flight though, the 2-hour rule still applies!
8. Charge up!
Charge all of your electronics the night before you leave. You don’t want to be waiting in the airport and have your phone or iPod die on you. Most airports have charge stations now, but don’t forget it is the holiday season so most likely there will not be any available.
9. Flyer Miles!
Make sure you sign up for frequent flyer miles for whichever airline you are flying. It may not seem worthwhile if you are only collecting 1,000 miles, but think about it, if you fly home twice a year, for your whole 4 years of college, that’s 12,000 miles! That could be one plane ticket for a special graduation trip!
10. Be Friendly
I know the TSA officers at the security checkpoints can be intimidating, but try to be as nice and friendly to them as possible. Especially during the holidays, their jobs can get crazy and a simple, “how are you today?” could make their day a little better. Besides, it could save you a trip to the infamous full body x-ray scanner.
Hopefully these tips will make your travels less stressful. Remember, take advantage of the deals too, and don’t settle for a full price ticket when there are tons of discounts floating out there. And if you’re like me, check the airport terminal map before you go to see how close the Starbucks is to your gate! Safe travels and have a great holiday season!