Staying sane during holiday travel
No phrase can conjure feelings of dread quite like “holiday travel,” but millions of Americans brave overcrowded terminals, endless lines and more to see their loved ones during the holiday season. Indeed, Airlines for America projected that almost 80 million travelers flew somewhere for Thanksgiving, Christmas and the New Year in 2017. That’s a lot of complimentary ginger ale.
Though holiday travel can be arduous, these 10 travel tips can make it easier:
1. Book smart
There’s no time like the present if you’re jonesing for an airline seat. This is especially true for Thanksgiving — according to Google Flights, a November 21-25, round-trip flight from Los Angeles to New York City can cost well over $600. Round-trip Christmas flights are holding a bit steadier at about $500 for that same route, but airline prices will only increase the longer travelers wait.
There is another, lesser-known means of saving travel money: Booking on holidays themselves. For example, that LA-to-NYC flight is about $50 cheaper when the takeoff date is bumped to Thanksgiving. Because fewer passengers fly on holidays, travelers who take this approach can look forward to breezier terminals. Selecting an earlier flight, while tiring, can also make your travel day quieter.
2. Check for bundle deals
Not every traveler will have a rescuer waiting for them at their destination, or a spare bedroom that they can crash in. If you fall into either or both of those camps, it never hurts to check for bundle deals on flights, hotels and rental vehicles. Some companies offer a discount if you book all of your travel needs through one source, which can end up saving you some serious cash if you’re going the distance for the holidays.
3. Pack smart
Packing light may seem impossible during the holidays, but it’s always a good idea to try to pack smart. You can create a surprising amount of room in your bag by tightly folding your clothes and then rolling them. Additionally, bear in mind that the contents of your bag will expand when they’re in the air.
Though packing smart is a great way to avoid lugging what can feel like a bag of bricks around the airport, there’s another benefit: Avoiding checking bags. Bringing a single bag eliminates carry-on fees, makes getting around easier and reduces the stress of being rushed through security. Best of all, you can reap the sweet satisfaction that comes with skipping the baggage carousel.
4. Ship gifts and food
While on the subject of packing smart, it’s almost always better to send gifts and food through the mail instead of cramming them into your bag. This can make packing clothes much easier and give you fewer things to look after at the airport.
Mailing food and gifts can also eliminate that most hated of airline hazards: Contents shifting during flight. Better to risk the cranberry sauce getting lost in the mail than ending up all over your holiday best.
5. Rest up
The only thing worse than shouldering your way through a packed airport is doing so while exhausted. Poor sleep can exacerbate all of the worst things about travel. Lines seem lengthier, waits feel longer and that screaming child two rows back somehow sounds louder when you’re tired.
Sleep can’t make all of those things go away, but it can give you more energy with which to hustle through security and wrestle your bag into overhead stowage. A full eight hours can also save you some cash on those overpriced cups of coffee.
6. Bring snacks and buy water
There’s an unparalleled sense of dread that comes with paying six bucks for a bag of Reese’s Pieces. Fortunately, you can skip the airport’s overpriced (and oftentimes unhealthy) fare by bringing your own snacks. Fresh fruit, dried fruit and trail mix are all healthy travel fuel and can be picked up at the store for far less than at the airport.
The TSA still prohibits bringing any containers of more than 3.4 oz of fluid through security, so plan on buying a bottle of water in the terminal if you want one (it never hurts to stay hydrated).
7. Stay clean
Because airports house crowds of people from all over the world, travelers risk being exposed to a riot of germs and viruses. Fortunately, you can stay healthy by avoiding drinking fountains (another great reason to buy a water bottle), and sanitizing your hands after touching surfaces and doorknobs. You can find travel-size bottles of hand sanitizer in most stores.
8. Stay updated
Delayed flights are one of air travel’s most unfortunate realities. Though there’s no silver bullet for inclement weather, it helps to download a travel app and stay up-to-date on airport goings-on. This strategy can also give you more time to arrange alternate transport or lodgings. At the very least, it’s easier to receive cancellation notices on your smartphone than to watch in horror as they bloom across all of those big monitors.
9. Bring a book
Or a tablet. Or a computer. Bring anything that can pull you out of the hassle of travel for even a few moments. Though it hardly bears mentioning, bringing something to read can reduce stress and make your travel day pass by faster. You’re going to be stuck in a seat for hours at a time anyway — might as well bring something to do.
10. Be kind
Holiday travel can be stressful no matter how much you prepare for it. Though packing light, bringing a book and shipping the aforementioned cranberry sauce are all great ways to reduce that stress, another effective strategy is simply to be kind.
Say hello to TSA agents. Say thanks to ticket takers. Smile and say no worries if a fellow traveler accidentally bumps into you. Kindness can be infectious, and there’s a chance that whomever you’re kind to will carry that spark to the next person they interact with. This strategy may very well make travel less stressful for more people this holiday season.
This article was syndicated by MediaFeed.org .
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