The holidays are a busy time for travel. Why not make things easier on yourself by following these simple tips?
Avoid The Rush
When your schedule allows it, travel before the holiday. No matter how you travel, it is always busier the day before and the day after a holiday, or before or after the weekend if the days fall in sequence.
If at all possible, adjust your travel plans by at least a day. It will save you money and frustration. If you must travel on a busy day, choose early morning or evening travel after the dinner rush.
If you’re planning on leaving your vehicle at the airport terminal or the train station, book ahead. These parking lots fill up quickly during the holidays and you could end up in a panic.
Many parking lots offer free shuttle rides to the terminal and station at no extra charge, so it’s well-worth the nominal effort.
Allow Extra Time
The holidays are the busiest time for airports, train and bus stations, and of course the roads. You can expect travel to take longer than normal, so allot at least a few extra hours. It’s much better to have a few minutes to kill at a rest stop or in a restaurant than panicking because it looks like you’re going to be late.
If you’re flying, leave plenty of time for connections. Winter weather woes and heavy air traffic can delay flights and leave you stranded without sufficient time between flights. If you have a choice of connecting airports, choose the one best-suited to handle poor weather conditions or one in a warmer region to avoid weather issues altogether.
Prepare For Air Travel
Most airlines allow you to print your boarding pass and check-in at home to save you long lineups and frustration. You can also save your boarding pass to your smartphone to eliminate paper. Arrive well ahead of time, relax, and check out the amenities. Many airports offer massages, shops, restaurants, gyms, and more.
Remember, airport security screens thousands of bags and people every day, so make it simpler for them. Don’t wear heels or a belt, and pre-pack your liquids and gels in 3.4-ounce containers in a Ziploc bag.
Leave the gift wrapping until you arrive, otherwise security may need to open your presents. Better yet, buy them online and ship them to your destination.
Stay On Top Of Conditions
Smartphones, laptops, and tablets changed travel forever. Use mobile technology to check road conditions or your flight status. Airlines, railways, and state highway authorities usually have apps you can utilize to receive real-time information, instead of wondering what’s happening.
A mobile device is an invaluable tool if something goes amiss too. You can call friends and family, book a hotel, or rent a car if your flight’s cancelled.
Plan For The Worst
Things can go wrong, but it’s less of a problem when you prepare. Stock a bag with snacks, water, and a few diversions if you find you need to wait a few hours for your flight or traffic delays you. This is especially important if you’re traveling with children.
Always plan an alternative route or mode of transportation. Road closures, flight delays, or cancellations aren’t such a big problem if you have a plan “B.” Alternate airports can often save the day when your usual airport can’t deliver.
Don’t Pack The Kitchen Sink
Even if you have kids you don’t need to bring too many things. Pack the basics and if you forget something, buy it when you arrive.
If you’re flying, try to limit yourself to a carry-on. You’ll avoid lost luggage, extra fees, and discover the freedom of light travel. You’re less likely to miss connecting flights, and you might as well get used to it. Luggage charges are becoming the norm.
Before you travel, check your insurance coverage. Accidents can occur, even if you’re just driving from your home to the airport or train station. State minimums do not provide enough protection, so discuss your insurance needs with your local, independent insurance agent. They’ll tailor your coverage to your needs and budget.