Surviving travel during any peak travel season takes some thought and planning. You know there are going to be crowds. There are probably going to be inexperienced travellers. That means lines will be long. What can you do to make it better?
Plan your flights strategically. Try to catch the first flight in the morning: there are fewer delays. Try to make that flight a non-stop if you can. Go ahead and look for the lowest airfare, but often those come with plane changes and layovers.
The weather could be fine where you’re departing from and arriving to, but you could get stuck in a snow storm in between. Weight your options. Is it really worth it to save a few bucks?
So watch the weather. Check local reports frequently leading up to your flight. You can’t change the weather, but you can anticipate delays caused by bad weather and, if you’re resourceful and lucky, you might be able to change your plans.
Surviving holiday flights doesn’t mean just winter storms. Summer thunderstorms in the U.S. or monsoons in Asia can disrupt your flights just as easily.
Arrive at the airport even earlier than you usually would. Expect long security lines. The day before your flight, check in and pay for any checked luggage online. (Better yet, don’t check any luggage at all. Try for carry-on only.)
Be prepared at security: it’ll help keep those lines shorter. Have your ticket and ID handy at all times. Yes, you may have to take your shoes off, even in winter, so leave the lace-up boots at home or in your suitcase.
Send gifts ahead or shop and ship online. If you do carry gifts with you, don’t wrap them for carry-on. You may have to unwrap them, and that will create more stress!
If you’re travelling with kids, keep them busy by packing puzzles, crayons, coloring books, or their own electronics. Make sure the electronics, however, are quiet. Your fellow passengers will be much happier if there aren’t all those bells and whistles!
Once you’ve checked in, walk around the airport. Exercise can help reduce stress. Don’t stray too far from your gate for too long though, even if there is a delay. You don’t want to miss your flight! In rare instances, they may say there will be an hour delay but the plane could be ready in a half hour. Be there.
Take the train or bus to the airport. That can save stress and reduce your carbon footprint. Use off-airport parking if you must drive: You’ll save money and avoid at least some of the traffic. Some off-airport lots will let you make reservations.
Here’s an alternative idea for surviving holiday flights. Why not take the train! If the option is available, short trips can be faster by train, plus there are usually no security lines and fewer problems with weather.
Try to plan for a day at home at the end of your trip. You’ll be less stressed not having to rush back to your routine, plus you’ll have a built-in time buffer in case your return trip is delayed.
Whether it’s a major holiday or just the summer travel rush, plans for surviving holiday flights will help you enjoy your trip.