5 Travel Tips to Get Through the Holidays

The rollicking spirit of the holidays can come to a grinding halt if your travel plans are filled with chaos. Unwelcome surprises can sap the jolly out of anyone. If you’re a savvy traveler, you may think you have all the contingencies covered. But when you throw in the crowds and the high expectations of the holidays, things can go belly up very quickly. Here are five tips you’ll want to memorize to get through the holidays when traveling by air.

1. Leave gifts unwrapped

Are you traveling with gifts for your loved ones? While TSA doesn’t want to discourage you from traveling with wrapped gifts, there could be a hitch so be sure to checkout the TSA Travel Tips. On occasion, one or all your wrapped gifts may need to be unwrapped for security reasons. TSA personnel would do everything possible to keep your beautiful wrapping intact, but you know how hard it is not to tear paper when undoing a piece of tape. Avoid all this potential hassle by simply leaving gifts unwrapped until you arrive at your destination. You’ll surely be able to find a half hour or so to wrap them once you arrive. Be sure to bring your own wrapping paper and tape so you don’t have to face holiday shopping crowds once you get to your destination.

2. Enroll in TSA PreCheck

The TSA gives preferential treatment to flyers enrolled in the TSA PreCheck program. You will experience shorter lines and expedited screening. You’ll also enjoy shorter lines and more dignified treatment and as a TSA PreCheck approved passenger, you won’t be asked to remove shoes, belts, watches and jackets. You won’t have to fire up your laptop. You can enroll online ahead of time with a reasonable charge and it’s worth it for the convenience.

3. Bring your own entertainment for kids

Holiday travel can mean wait times before takeoff. Kids barely have the patience for a long car ride, let alone waiting in airport lounges or stuck in a cramped airplane seat. Do you and your family a favor by packing enough entertainment to occupy the kids. Don’t rely on in-flight movies because not all airlines have inflight entertainment. Rely on good old fashioned standbys like coloring books and crayons, puzzle books, notebooks (for doodling, hangman and tick-tac-toe) and playing cards.

4. Familiarize yourself with the airport

Some airports can be difficult to navigate if you’ve never been there. You need to know where you’re going and in what direction in order to get where you’re going on time. Terminal maps are available online so you can orient yourself before you arrive.

5. Consider flexible dates

Millions more people fly at holiday time.  If you’re crowd averse, or you simply would enjoy a less stressful travel experience, consider using flexible dates for your holiday travel plans. Maybe you can take a few extra days off and leave earlier. Or maybe you can stay later and miss all the returning passengers after the holidays. The more flexible with your dates you are, the better odds you’ll have of missing at least some of the crowds. Surprisingly, you might be able to miss crowds by flying on the actual holiday. Most people like to arrive ahead of time, so it could be more relaxing if you are willing to get in a little later than everybody else.

Now that you have these five travel tips, it’s time to set them in motion so you never have to let travel hassles get in the way of your good time.