It happens every year at the holidays. The wonderful world of travel which I participate in so routinely becomes clogged with extra traffic. In the process, it seems a lot of people get thrown out of the holiday spirit. Since I travel the skies and roads so frequently, I though I would put together some of my thoughts in hopes I can help a few others keep their holiday spirit as they travel.
In all my notes below, when I say you, I mean as individuals but some of you will need to be sure the others traveling with you think things through too so you may need to think it through a few ways. You may also want to check out the tips on surviving the cold if you don’t usually have to deal with real cold.
General Travel Tips
Whether you travel a lot or not, remember the will be lots of people in airports and on the road. Put extra travel time into your schedule right now. I even put this time on my calendar helps me make target departure.
Think about who you are traveling with and how often and how well they travel. For instance traveling independently is very different from traveling with multiple generations. Think about how you can help travel go smoothly for them. For instance when I fly with my mom, I tend to go earlier so she doesn’t feel rushed. I can note wheelchair needs on the reservation and then simply flag it along the way.
Travel with a water bottle. Almost any place that offers cold drinks will refill it for free.
Be respectful of others…. Know what’s even better? Try to be the person who smiles their way through things and has friendly words for the folks who are working. They have to put up with some really rude folks far too often. Totally puts a smile on my face if I have a chance to do something nice for someone working — buy someone in line next to you their coffee or whatever.
Think about what you need. Prioritize that stuff, even write it down if you don’t travel much – camera (check memory card for space & batteries too), phone & camera chargers, medicine, glasses, and then think about things you would like to have. Remember to be realistic. You are traveling for a short time, not moving. Don’t take everything.
Consider types of clothes and shoes you will take. Layers are awesome this time of year. Darker colors and solids are the biggest go to – they tend to hide wear of a tough day better than others and more easily mix and match. I have to have a zip up sweatshirt this time of year! Need sneakers for exercise?
If you have kids and a long trip ahead, consider what will keep them focused on something. A new book or movie, a new video game or application on your phone, etc. hold that til they already bored with all the stuff they brought.
Thinking through what you need and what bags things will be in can be important, especially if you have several people or limited space. When that’s the case make sure at least some bags are soft like duffle bags, etc.
Having a clean car with a trash bag helps morale in my opinion. And keeping it clean is especially smart for a group traveling together.
Plan your route. I know I rely a lot on my mobile phone or GPS for directions, but there are weird highway and bridge projects out there that are much better navigated if you know from the start rather than once you are stuck in gridlock. Waze (app for your phone) is awesome for helping you get around an accident too!
Be sure you have your phone charger and that the power supply is working. I even like to have extra fuses just in case cause it’s easy to pass time on a hands-free device chatting.
Make sure you are prepared for the weather you are going to be in. Good tires are especially critical in wet, cold weather but are always best to have good tread. But little things like not having an ice scraper can also delay you.
Have good stuff to listen to. I love listening to audiobooks when I have a drive for a few hours, but satellite radio, the iPod, etc all help. I love music so I carry my workhorse 160 gig iPod on especially long trips. Never know whether I will want to listen to Pink or Vladimir Horowitz. I like having my options open.
If traveling with kids, see if there are one or two landmarks that will give you things to look forward to. It can be as simple as the earthquake display at a rest area but it keeps you from focusing on a single arrival.
Know the Transportation Security Administration and airline rules BEFORE you pack. The TSA site is user friendly and lays everything out for you at http://www.tsa.gov/.
Remember, jokes can be great fun with friends, but joking about security in an airport can get you in massive trouble (and will delay a whole bunch of other people and we could lose our holiday cause you lost your mind).
Security checks require you to remove your shoes & jackets unless you have TSA pre-check or fit special criteria.
Any liquids, gels, aerosols, etc that you plan to carry on should be in a quart sized bag with no bottle being bigger than 3.5 oz. and easy to pull out as they need to be put in a bin.
Carry medicines on with you. If they have to gate check your bag, pull these out. You want them easily accessible.
Think about food cause airlines aren’t very generous with food on planes these days especially if you want to save calories for the holiday spread. I frequently carry fruit with me. Clementines are awesome in winter. And fill that water bottle at any bar or restaurant once you are passed security.
If traveling with gifts, wrapping before you travel is going to make life hard. Security may unwrap whether in your carryon or check bags.
TURN OFF YOUR ELECTRONICS (or put them on airplane mode) WHEN THE DOOR SHUTS. I feel so badly for the flight attendants. They make the announcements over and over again and then have to tell 50 people one by one to turn off their phones, tablets, etc. if it has a battery and isn’t a pacemaker or hearing aid, turn it off.
If you are a techie like me, consider buying a wifi pass ahead of getting on the plane. Verify on the airline’s website the planes you will be on have wifi onboard (pull up your itinerary & they usually show a wifi emblem). If I buy a pass in advance, I can usually get a 24 hr pass that covers my connections, etc for less than a single flight.
Think about those noise-canceling headphones…. Amazing how they can limit your exposure to the Grinches of the world.
Remember lots of people think they should take everything on the plane. Don’t be that person unless you want to schlep everything all-day and deal with the likely reality that bins will be limited. If the airline offers free luggage check in consider it, especially if you are traveling with the whole family. Making those connections with everyone hauling a couple of bags wears on you.
When storing your bag, be sure the bin closes when you put it up. Try putting rollerbags in handle or wheels first so more people can fit their bags.
Enjoy the flight. And take time to study the earth beneath you…. Lots of great farmers in those fly-over states. Lots of great small towns, lakes, rivers,