Thanksgiving travel, and holiday travel in general, can be extremely stressful. With long lines, flight delays, and flight cancellations, a trip to the airport in November or December tends to be a less than pleasant experience. Luckily, there are a few things that you can do to help avoid the headaches that come with traveling across the country, or around the world, during the busiest travel time of the year.
One of the most important things that anyone can do when traveling, whether it is for the holiday season or otherwise, is to ensure good health before, during, and after your trip. However, proper health precautions are even more crucial during the busy holiday season. Using hand sanitizers, practicing proper hand washing, and getting an annual flu shot are more important than ever, especially when your body may be run down and stressed out to begin with. Be sure to pack a small first aid or travel health kit, and get a flu vaccination at least two weeks before your flight to prevent illness and save a lot of mid-vacation discomfort.
Avoid Peak Travel
The period stretching from the day before Thanksgiving to the Sunday following the holiday is one of the busiest domestic travel times of the year. If you can, try to schedule your flight to leave before and get back after that time period. Depending on the air carrier, this can cost a little less too, even though you might pay more for your stay since you’ll be in your locale of choice for a little longer. But, slightly shorter lines at the airport and fewer flight cancellations may make this decision well worth it.
Another good tip is to travel earlier in the day, especially if you must travel during peak times. Morning flights are less likely to be delayed, but later flights will be adjusted for delays that may have happened earlier in the day. The earlier you fly, the more likely you are to arrive on time.
Arriving on time becomes even more important if you have connecting flights. There is nothing worse than arriving home for the holidays only to discover that the gifts, and clothes, you brought with you are still a thousand miles away. Mailing gifts is generally a good idea, and a policy that the TSA advocates. Additionally, if you can, try to travel with only carry-on luggage. This can save you money on baggage fees, time waiting to check them, and the agitation that can come from bags being lost.
Pack Healthy Snacks
Hunger, and the tiredness and grumpiness that tend to result, can make a busy travel day almost insufferable. In order to stay calm and healthy while traveling, it is key to not skip meals or become dehydrated. Having a healthy snack and drink on hand can give you the energy you need to get through the day. However, be sure to follow TSA guidelines, especially as they pertain to liquids. And, if you have any gluten allergies, be sure to review our post from last month on how to travel with your allergy.
Be Conscious of TSA Requirements
Remember, the busiest time of the year for air travel is necessarily the most stressful time of year for the TSA as well. Try to be considerate and understanding as you go through security checkpoints and screenings. Be sure to follow guidelines when it comes to liquids, and obey all rules when passing through security checkpoints. The TSA’s website is a great help in this regard, as it provides the most up to date standards.
If you are a frequent traveler, you might consider signing up for the new TSA Pre✓™ Expedited Screening. This program prescreens flyers and allows those accepted to receive benefits like being able to leave their shoes on and access faster priority lines.
Prepare for the Unexpected
Delays, lost luggage, and inclement weather are very real possibilities when traveling during the holidays. Have a backup plan ready just in case you end up having to change what you will be doing or where you will be staying. If something unforeseen does happen with your flight, try to show a little holiday spirit, and be courteous to the attendant who is helping you. A little kindness can go a long way.
Do you have any holiday travel tips or keys to traveling successfully during busy seasons? Leave any thoughts or ideas you might have in our comments section below.