As we head into the holiday season, memories of traveling this time of year start to creep in. The day before Thanksgiving has traditionally been the busiest travel day of the year. Now, 2020 might be the exception to this rule, but since travel is starting to pick back up (and the announcement this week that a COVID-19 vaccine may be ready to roll out soon), makes me want to share these helpful holiday travel tips this week!
When our children were born, my husband and I made the conscious decision that Santa was always going to come down OUR chimney…no traveling over Christmas to visit family and friends. And we really stuck to the rule while they were little, issuing an open invitation to our extended family to come and spend the holidays with us. Let’s face it, traveling during the holidays seems kinda crazy, and with twin babies, it was INSANE! It has always struck me as “crazy” when I see the endless TSA security lines and hear stories about the airport traffic and lack of parking around the busiest flying time of the year. Still, I also realize that some people have no choice but to brave the elements to make it home for the Holidays. If you do have to travel during the “season of crazies”, here are some tips to help you retain a little bit of your sanity:
Make your reservations well in advance and pick your flights carefully…if you have to connect, try to pick a connecting airport where the weather might cooperate a little better…in December, ALWAYS choose a connection in Dallas or Atlanta over Chicago or Minneapolis! It’s just smart! Be sure to make your seat assignments while you buy your ticket if the airline’s policy allows. And, this is a time when spending a little bit extra to have pre-assigned seating is worth the investment.
You guys already know how I feel about packing light, but it becomes even more critical over the holidays. The less you have to worry about schlepping through the crowded airports, the better. Plus, you can save vast amounts of time, money, and stress by fitting your things into an easy-to-maneuver carry-on bag. If you do check luggage, be sure to keep the essentials like medications and important documents with you – just in case!
When your tummy is growling, your mind can’t think straight, and you could unknowingly get in the wrong line, take a wrong turn, or annoy an innocent flight attendant! Pack some healthy snacks so you and your family will not have to rely on the kindness of strangers if you end up sitting on the tarmac for hours. You will thank me later!
TSA suggests always to ship wrapped gifts to your destination or wait until you reach your destination to wrap them. They will have to unwrap and inspect any gift that they can’t identify in your carry-on luggage. Plus, you don’t want to have to struggle with a heavy suitcase full of gifts through the airport if you are forced to run to make a tight connection.
Leave home for the airport at least an extra hour early to allow for traffic, parking, check-in, and security delays. And, when booking your flights, try to avoid any super tight connections. If you only have 45 minutes between flights in the Atlanta airport, you could be in big trouble if your first flight is delayed a little. It’s much less stressful to find a nice bar or coffee shop in the airport to kill some extra time.
The chatty neighbor on the airplane who takes up your armrest, the canceled and delayed flights, and the luggage that disappeared between airports will all make for great stories over dinner when you finally make it to your destination and are surrounded by your loved ones. Just breathe, keep your sense of humor and try to let the frustration go…
Holiday travel is just as much of a tradition to many as pumpkin pie, ugly Christmas sweaters, and re-gifting…so use these tips to avoid your own Santa-sized meltdown! Deep breaths and Happy Holidays to everyone!
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