7 Tips for Holiday Season Travel

by Emma Cromidas

Whether you are going on a business trip or just trying to get away from the cold New England weather, traveling during the holiday season is something that many tend to avoid. However, with these helpful tips, traveling this season is sure to be easy and efficient.

 

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Passengers at the Detroit Metropolitan Airport during the holiday season in 2015 (Photo from CNN.com)

1.
Arrive at the airport early.

 

It is always important to allow yourself ample time at the airport to check-in, go through security and get your bags checked. Going through security can be a hassle and getting your bags checked takes some time. In addition, if by chance you are randomly selected to be more closely scrutinized by security, you must step out of line and wait to be checked. According to the American Airlines website, passengers on flights within the United States must be checked in 45 minutes prior to departure and passengers on flights outside of the United States must be checked in 60 minutes before departure. This allows time for security to scan your passport, check your baggage, and to go through customs. Meredith Cromidas, a frequent visitor of Florida, says she “always allows ample time to get bags checked and go through security.”

“I know that the security lines take a while, and I was once even stopped because the soap I used in the bathroom contained chemicals that showed up as dangerous on the cameras. I had to get personally patted down,” explained Meredith.

2. Be aware of the carry-on restrictions.

To prevent inflight danger, there are many restrictions placed by Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). For example, personal care items, such as insect repellent or sunscreen, are only allowed to be 3.4 ounce containers or smaller. In addition, these items must be in a clear, plastic, one-quart zip-top bag. Scissors and tools, like screwdrivers and wrenches, must be no more than 7 inches long. Knowing these restrictions will help to make your trip through security go smoothly.

“The TSA restrictions can be very stressful if you are going on vacation or a business trip so it is better to know of these rules beforehand,” explained Nick Moore, a frequent traveler. If you broke one of these rules, you would have to step out of the security line and take even more time to figure it out. Chances are your sufficient amount of shampoo will be confiscated and you will have to buy shampoo when you get to your destination.

3. Keep your packing to a minimum.

Packing can be difficult, especially if you are going away for several days. However, it is always good to pack light. Only bringing one carry-on onto the plane is beneficial because you won’t have to wait for your checked luggage at the terminal after your flight.  Holiday season is especially busy with people, therefore bags could get lost on the conveyor belt. If you do bring checked luggage, make sure to keep your medications and other valuable items in your carry-on in case your luggage gets lost in the crowd.

4. Plan connecting flights carefully.

During the holiday season, a snowstorm could hinder your vacation plans. Be sure to plan your flights accordingly, especially if you have a connecting flight. You wouldn’t want to have your flight delayed because of snow and then miss your connecting flight because you were delayed coming into the airport. Allow ample time in between the flights to account for security, delays, and the distance between the two terminals.

5. Avoid traveling on peak travel dates.

The busiest day in the airport is the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. To avoid crowds, plan to travel on Thanksgiving Day as it will be less crowded. In addition, flights on peak travel days, such as long holiday’s are going to be the most expensive flights. Julia Coelho, who is traveling to North Carolina during this winter vacation, is leaving Christmas morning to avoid high prices. “I was particularly upset when I found out that we were leaving on Christmas Day. I know that this is happening because tickets are much cheaper on the 25th but it is still disappointing to not spend Christmas Eve with my family, “ said Coelho.  

6. Keep gifts unwrapped.

As Christmas and New Year’s roll around, some may be tempted to wrap a gift for their niece, nephew, or grandchild and pack it into their luggage. However, you should avoid wrapping gifts before getting to your destination because TSA might ask you to unwrap this item. This could be frustrating especially if you are in a rush because you would have to go through a separate screening and waste time. Instead, just bring the item and wrap it when you get to your destination. There are also ways to ship your item down to where you are headed for free, just ask!

7. Always say yes to drinks and snacks.

While on the plane, your flight attendant may offer you a complimentary drink from the menu and a small snack to hold you over until you reach your destination. Always accept the drink as it is important to stay hydrated while you are up in the air. Plus, the snacks are usually really yummy.

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