Holiday Travel Tips For On The Road And In The Air
With the busy travel season under way and millions set to travel, getting where you want to go is a little more complicated than other times of the year. So how can you make sure everything goes smoothly for your vacation? Here are some tips to help you deal with the holiday madness.
Before You Go
Take care of business before you leave home. There is nothing like getting on the road and realizing you forgot to do something important like stop the mail or newspapers or pay bills. Take care of these small, but important, tasks before you head out.
Schedule pet care early. If you will need to board your pets in a kennel, make sure to book early. Most kennels fill up during the holidays, so the sooner you can get Fido scheduled, the better. Another option for pet care during a holiday trip might be to use a pet-sitting or house-sitting service. But keep in mind that your regular pet sitter might also have plans during the holidays, so you may need to check if he or she can accommodate you or if he or she will be out of town.
Place houselights on a timer. Burglars tend to target empty homes during the holidays, so make it harder by giving the appearance that you are home.
Allow for plenty of time. Whether you are driving or flying, it will take longer to get places. Roads and airports alike will be packed with travelers. If you are driving and need to be somewhere by a certain time, allow for possible delays due to more traffic. If traveling by air, plan on longer lines than might be seen at other times of the year—lines at ticketing counters, lines at airport security checkpoint, lines at that little airport restaurant that you want to stop into for a “quick” coffee. Don’t let those lines make you miss your flight. It’s best to get to the airport an extra hour or two earlier than normal during holiday travel.
Traveling by Air
Know your airline. Find out if you can check in curbside at the airport or online since this could save some time. By printing your boarding pass at home, you have already managed to skip one step at the airport. Nowadays self-serve kiosks may or may not save you time, since even these tend to have long lines. This is especially true during the holidays when more travelers who are unfamiliar with airport policies and fees are flying.
Choose your seat before you go. This can allow you to get that desired aisle or window seat instead of being stuck with a middle seat where you are more likely to be cramped.
Get a ride to and from the airport. Whether you ask a friend or take a taxi, this might be a better option than driving to the airport and finding the parking lot full.
Be ready to pay for extra services. Almost all airlines charge for checked luggage, so be ready for this. Have your form of payment, such as a credit card, handy, or if you have already checked in online from home, you may be able to pre-pay these luggage fees.
Pack well. Make a list to ensure that you don’t forget something. And if you can pack everything in just a carry-on you could save time by not checking a bag, along with saving money on baggage fees. If you do check a bag, weigh it in advance at home to avoid overweight baggage fees. Also, put separate toiletries in a small bag in your carry-on that you can easily access in case you want to freshen up during a long day of traveling. When packing, know what you can pack in a carry-on to avoid delays at the security checkpoints. Since TSA will confiscate items that are prohibited, make sure in advance that these items haven’t made their way into your carry-on luggage. TSA has also published guidelines about traveling with food and gifts during the holidays.
Gifts that go through airport security should be unwrapped. This allows airport security to inspect all items in your checked baggage and your carry-on. Plan to wrap any presents when you get to your destination. Or better yet, check about shipping items. If you use ground and allow enough time for arrival, then this might be cheaper than checking a bag, and it could forego the hassle of having to keep up with these extra items when flying.
Be aware of the new TSA security procedures at airports. With the current controversy over whole body scanners (advanced imaging technology), more and more people are opting for the enhanced pat-downs, which can make lines through security move slower. Educate yourself on your options to know which you would prefer ahead of time, and if you plan to also opt for the pat-down rather than the scanners, allow extra time for this procedure.
Be at the gate well before your scheduled boarding time. Confusion at the gate and delays in loading can cause your flight to miss its departure time, which then causes a further delay as the airport tries to fit your flight in a slot for take-off. In addition, be aware that you should be at your gate where you can hear the announcements being made regarding your flight. If you think you can sit in an area across from your gate and not miss your flight, think again. You just might not hear the call to board.
Take measures to stay as healthy as possible. With cold and flu season here, and the poor ventilation systems on crowded airplanes, avoiding germs is hard. Getting a flu shot or nasal spray flu vaccine can increase your odds of staying healthy this winter. In addition, using hand sanitizer and washing hands often can help. If you want even more protection against germs, take along disinfectant wipes to wipe down seats in the airport and on the plane, along with tray tables. Some people also swear by the use of products like Airborne, but evidence varies on its effectiveness. If you have further questions on the use of certain products or medications, it’s always best to ask your doctor.
Traveling by Car
If you are driving, make sure your vehicle is in good working order. There’s nothing more miserable than being stranded alongside the road, especially if it’s a cold winter night. Ensure that all needed maintenance has been done before your trip and have your auto repair shop give your car a once over.
Know where you are going. Have maps handy or use a GPS. Check for construction along your route to either plan a way around it or allow extra time to make your way through it.
Pack for a road emergency. Certain items should definitely be brought along during any winter road trip in case of an emergency. Items such as a cell phone with charger, ice scraper, tow rope and jumper cables, cat litter or sand for traction on slippery surfaces, blankets, flashlights, matches, emergency candles, a first aid kit, and a portable radio can come in handy in an emergency.
Plan for Snags
A variety of things can go wrong while traveling, but you can combat snags with these tips.
Check your flight before you leave home to see if it is on time. This is one way to know if you should expect delays, and in some instances when a flight has been cancelled, this could save you a useless trip to the airport when you could spend that time making alternate plans to get to your destination. In addition, some airlines offer flight updates by text message or through a dedicated phone number.
Confirm reservations for hotels and rental cars before you leave home. Since there have been instances where a company has “lost” someone’s booking, checking beforehand can give you peace of mind before you arrive. In addition, carrying this confirmation with you when you travel can help speed along any follow-up that may be needed if this does happen to you.
Bring along any phone numbers and all documentation related with your bookings for airlines, car rental companies, hotels and any other travel contacts in case you are delayed or you have a cancellation. If your booking is made through All Inclusive Outlet, and you need assistance once you are on the road, there is a 24-hour customer care number you can call. In addition, Cancun and the Riviera Maya are serviced by local Amstar representatives. The travel documents you will receive from All Inclusive Outlet will include a local contact number and the procedures for various modes of customer service while traveling, as well as the contact numbers for the various transfer companies, airlines, and hotels. You will want to print these documents and put them in your carry-on luggage just in case you need them.
Travel with copies of your passport and driver’s license along with information about your credit card companies in case one of these is lost or stolen.
Regardless of your mode of transportation, don’t forget to pack your patience. We’re all in the same boat when it comes to trying to get where we want to go, but eventually we will all make it to our destination for some holiday fun.