The holidays should be the happiest time of the year, and often they are, just not while you’re in route. Travel around Thanksgiving or Christmas can be head-throbbingly stressful. Just about every survey of travelers finds that the most stressful part of any travel, holiday or otherwise, is the travel itself. With that in mind, here are some tips that should make your holiday travel, if not easier, at least more pleasant.
Leave Early and Come Home Early
When most people search “best day to fly” the results kicked back to them revolve around one thing and one thing only: ticket cost. And that is certainly a consideration, but another one is how many angry passengers will be trying to cram themselves into the airport that day. Skyscanner and the passenger rights company AirHelp found that, like you might expect the Wednesday before Thanksgiving is one of the busier travel days of the year as is the Sunday following Thanksgiving. If you still need to buy your ticket, save yourself some stress by travelling on Monday or Tuesday and returning on Friday or Saturday. Plus, Cheapair found that the travelling the day before Thanksgiving is only likely to save you about $40 a ticket anyway. And is your sanity worth $40? Yes, yes it is.
Know Your Luggage
Airlines have been shrinking the size of carry ons allowed on their planes in recent years. Often it isn’t an issue and gate attendants will let you let you breeze through with your roller bag fully extended, but during the holidays it may be a different story. If you are a traveller who always insists on avoiding the baggage carousel, make sure your luggage is the right size. For most domestic airlines that size is now 22 x 14 x 9.
Don’t Rely On Paper
If you’re still analog it’s time to go digital. If you are still printing out paper boarding passes, take a few minutes and acquaint yourself with the technological advances of your phone. It’s easy to lose, drop or forget a piece of paper, but you won’t go anywhere without your phone. Also, if you use your airlines app you’ll get updates about your flight status and notifications about any flight delays.
Speaking of your phone, one of the best travel purchases you can make is a portable charger for it. A charging brick like this one from Anker will keep your gear powered through any long delays and ensure that you can always get a hold of someone if you need to. Plus it will mean you don’t have to fight 35 college students for eight electrical outlets on the floor at ORF.
Sign Up for Twitter
If you don’t have a twitter account there is probably a very good reason. It can be an unpleasant place to be sometimes. But one thing it is actually incredibly useful for is getting a hold of airlines. Some, like American and Southwest, will respond within in a matter of minutes and help you resolve any issues you might be having with your travel. You don’t have to open it any other time in your life, but at the airport, Twitter is an asset.
They can take your plastic bottles, but they’ll never take your Fritos. You should be bringing food with you to the airport all the time, but the holidays are even worse when it comes to lines and crowds at the Chili’s Too. Steer clear of them all with some homemade sandwiches and trail mix.
Wear Your Warm Stuff
If you’re traveling north this time of year you’re going to need to break out your jacket and scarf. Save yourself some space in your carry on (it is smaller at this point, after all) and wear as much of it as you can onboard with you. It might make you feel a little bulky as you slide into your seat, but it will let you pack days worth of regular clothes. Ball it all up use it as a pillow if you have to.
Unless you have one single gift for a family member that you can count as your personal item, try to ship gifts to your loved ones. If your luggage is loaded with gifts, there is a better chance you’ll have to check it, which means, first of all, you’ll have to pay a fee anyway, and two there is a chance it could get lost in the swirl of travel traffic in November and December. That won’t make a happy holiday for anyone.