Holiday Travel Tips
It’s that time of year. Holiday travel tips
Folks are gearing up to visit relatives and friends for the holidays. As stressful as traveling can be even during the calmest of seasons, navigating the crowds, lines and potential delays nearly ubiquitous through the New Year can be downright dizzying for the occasional flier. Holiday travel tips
To make that trip to Grandma’s house go a little smoother, USA TODAY’s frequent flying panel of Road Warriors offers its top tips for holiday travel.
First off, “book the first flight of the day,” says Amy Sewell, a style expert based in Manhattan. “It’s not fun to get up early, but early flights generally leave on time. To minimize the risk of missing a connection, never book a layover of less than two hours.”
On the day of your trip, there are a few things you can — and should do — before you even leave the house.
For instance, “download your airline’s app and check it for gate assignments, flight times, seat assignments,” says Jim Sill, a director of global development who’s based in Costa Mesa, Calif.
When you’re packing,”think about that carry-on,” he advises. “Everyone will be taking up overhead bin space. If you board too late, you will be struggling to find a spot for it. Is it really that important to carry it on? With a flexible schedule and a few extra bucks (to check a bag), you can avoid so much stress.”
If you do decide to check a bag, “never pack items like medicine or valuables,” saysTim Beyrau, an airline pilot based in Mandeville, La. “Consider weighing your checked bags beforehand to ensure you don’t go over the weight limits and incur extra charges.”
You can also pack a lunch. “Know that you can bring food and drinks on board airplanes,” Beyrau says, “but not alcohol due to FAA regulations.” Make sure what you pack is allowed through TSA checkpoints.
What you wear can be as important as what you toss into your suitcase. “Wear easy on/off shoes to expedite security,” says Sill, who recommends taking off your belt and clearing out your pockets — placing whatever is inside in a baggie — before you even line up at the screening checkpoint. “Wear layers on planes. It can be hot one minute and really cold the next.”
Bring a water bottle. “Empty it before security,” Sill says, “and fill it right back up afterward.”
One of the most frustrating aspects of a trip can be when your flight is canceled. If that happens, it pays to be strategic. “If your flight is canceled, contact the airline by phone while standing in line for customer service,” says Trish Bigler of Phoenix. “If your flight is overbooked, look at nearby cities. Always have Plan B available to suggest to the agent. And ask nicely.”
A booking app can come in handy during such emergencies. Lisa Finstein, a clinical research associate who lives in Manchester, N.H., recommends Kayak “to make those last-minute hotel reservations when you get stuck in Detroit due to weather or rent a car in Philly when your flight is canceled.”
Though the unexpected can strike at any time, it’s a good idea to check the weather forecast beforehand for the days around your trip. “If bad weather is expected, airlines will generally allow you to change flights at no cost,” says Ashok Raiji, director at a building design firm, who is based in Yonkers, N.Y. “If your schedule is flexible, you could leave a day in advance of the bad weather.”
Many airports are upping their game, adding high-end restaurants, spa services and even amenities such as walking trails. Fliers may want to take advantage as they wait to board their flights.
“Get there early,” suggests Sheri Spero of New York City. “Enjoy the lounges. Take baggies for the extra goodies.”
Spero says, “If parking at the airport … take a picture of the lane sign, so you don’t forget where you left the car.”
Sewell says there’s perhaps one thing to remember above all else. “Pack a good attitude and create a happy zone around you,” she says. “A positive attitude is infectious and will make travel more pleasant for you, your family, gate agents and fellow travelers.”
By USA Today Road Warriors
About the Author
As Senior.com Director of Sales and Marketing, Kimberly Johnson is passionate about providing Seniors with the resources and products to live well. Kimberly is a seasoned caregiver to her family and breast cancer survivor. Her father battled ALS, Lou Gehrig’s disease and she was a primary caregiver. Today Kimberly lives in Southern California near her 104-year-old grandmother, widowed mother, a mentally disabled sister and second sister who is also a breast cancer survivor. She is happily married to her husband of 24 years and they have 3 children.View All Articles