You can minimize holiday travel stress by using some simple tips to make your holiday airport and flight time enjoyable. Hopefully this sage advice will help you arrive at your destination more relaxed and ready to enjoy your time away from home.
1. Allow plenty of time to get to the airport: bad weather, heavy traffic en route, full parking lots and crowded airport transportation systems all add to travel stress.
2. Arrive at the airport early! Changing security procedures add to the chaos of holiday travel as many infrequent travelers fill planes. If you get to your gate early have a relaxed meal, shop at interesting airport stores, make phone calls, or check messages.
3. If traveling with a carry-on only, remember the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) 3-1-1 ruling for liquids/gels/lotions. All carry-on liquids etc. must be less than 3 ounces, placed into one 1-quart zip-top baggie (do this at home!), one baggie per passenger. Be sure to remove the 1-quart baggie from your suitcase for separate screening. If you are bringing food to your destination for the holiday feast, YOU MAY NOT carry on items if they contain more than 3 ounces. If more than 3 ounces, these must be packed with your checked luggage only: wine, liquor, cranberry sauce, gravy, jam, jelly, creamy dip, soup. You can understand why most of these would be better bought or made at your destination.
4. Wear clothing that is screening friendly (think slip-on shoes, tee-shirt under a bulky sweater), remove jewelry and tuck into a zip-top baggie and place into a carry-on bag before entering the security line, completely empty pockets into a baggie and tuck into a carry-on, remove coat and place into a bin or pack into a checked or carry-on bag. In the U.S., travelers must remove shoes and place them in a bin for screening. All countries require removal of coats, jackets and heavy sweaters for screening.
5. Oversized electronics such as laptop computers, video game consoles, DVD players and video cameras must be removed from their cases and placed in a separate bin for screening. E-readers and small electronics such as an iPad may be screened within a bag.
6. Neatness -- The TSA says every bag check takes 3 minutes, so pack your bag so they can see the contents easily and quickly.
7. Don't wrap gifts! Wrap at your destination, as packages may be unwrapped for security inspection. Better yet, shop in advance and ship; shop at your destination; or buy easy-to-pack gift cards.
8. Pack survival snacks that are not liquid or gel, and that don't require refrigeration. Crackers, granola bars, trail mix, raisins, fresh fruit (apples, bananas, oranges, grapes) all can successfully pass through airport security screening.
9. Buy a water bottle in the airport after you have cleared security. TSA screeners allow an empty water bottle to pass through the security checkpoint to be refilled at a drinking fountain or restaurant inside the secure area.
10. If traveling with an infant, be sure to pack extra diapers, baby food and supplies to be prepared for possible delays. Baby formula and breast milk, as well as other infant/toddler foods, may exceed the 3-ounce, 3-1-1 rule limit
When winter weather strands travelers, what can you do to suffer the least? The following four simple steps can mean the difference between total frustration and just minor inconvenience when the weather threatens your trip.
1. Pack a carry-on bag with everything that you simply cannot live without for a day. If checking luggage, carry-on the necessities of life and work including:
* All travel documents
* Computer and cell phone and chargers
* Partial change of clothing
* All medications
* Important work papers
* A light jacket, gloves and hat -- you never know what the weather will be like in the city where you are stuck along the way.
2. Carry all airline phone numbers (program them into your cell phone) and frequent flyer info. Never simply stand in a customer service line with every other passenger from your flight waiting to be rebooked when a flight is cancelled. Go to the rebooking counter line but immediately call your airline and get rebooked by phone. Not everyone will be conveniently accommodated, so act quickly. Standing in line allows you to possibly retrieve your luggage or to pick up food/hotel vouchers, and to hear verbal updates.
3. If you are stranded somewhere overnight and don't want to sleep in the airport, be prepared to find a nearby place to stay. If you are a member of hotel frequent guest programs, program their toll free phone numbers into your cell phone so that you can be one of the lucky travelers to score a hotel room before they are sold out. Carry account information with you, as frequent guests may receive priority.
4. Always check with your airline BEFORE leaving for the airport to verify that your flight is leaving on time and is actually flying.
Most importantly, pack a good book (or fill your electronic device with movies, games and other boredom busters); your patience and good humor -- and concentrate on the fun you'll have at your final destination!
If you follow these guidelines, you'll be able to sit back, relax, and allow the daily troubles to slip away as you head off on your holiday.
By Susan Foster