6 Last Minute Tips for Your Holiday Travel

traveling_sisters_plane_sunrise
Waiting to take off.

Travel is difficult under normal circumstances, add in a holiday and the possibility of bad weather it could be disastrous IF you let it.

 1. Presents

Don’t wrap them. If a question comes up or they beep when they go through security at the airport they will unwrap anything that is wrapped. Then where will you be? If you do not have time to wrap presents when you arrive gift bags and tissue can do.

A couple of other ideas are to pre-cut the paper (since you can’t take scissors on the plane) to the size of the package. Then take along some tape and ribbon to wrap it properly.

Interesting boxes can also work, but may take up too much room in your suitcase. Be sure they fit or can collapse. Again tissue paper and ribbon/bows may go a long ways to make it feel festive.

Do not carry liquids through security like bottles of wine. Look at the website for TSA (Transportation Security Administration) for the items that are allowed.

Here are the basic TSA regulations on liquids called the 3-1-1:

  • 3-1-1 for carry-ons = 3.4 ounce (100ml) bottle or less (by volume);
  • 1 quart-sized, clear, plastic, zip-top bag.
  • 1 bag per passenger placed in screening bin.
  • One-quart bag per person limits the total liquid volume each traveler can bring. 3.4 ounce (100ml) container size is a security measure.

(3 ounces of liquids, 1 bag, 1 bag per person = 3-1-1)

An option is to buy something from the “onboard” magazine or stop at the duty free shops at your “departure” or your “destination” airport.

2. Delays

Delays happen every day somewhere, so don’t be surprised if you encounter one. The question is how long will the delay be?

In case you have a long delay be sure to have all your medications with you. If we are traveling domestic we bring along three extra days of meds, if internationally we bring a full week, as some medications may not be available in the country you are in.

Weather can cause delays. The airlines do not do this on purpose, so please be patient while you’re wait. You may not have a weather problem where you are but the plane you may be waiting for could be coming from a city that is. A big winter storm can cause the cancellation of hundreds of flights. So again be patient while the airlines try to sort it all out.

Another important point is to have phone numbers with you and if you are counting on your cell phone be sure to have your charger too. If you are delayed be sure to call the people that will be affected, including any car service, hotels, family, or that great friend that is picking you up. They will appreciate hearing from you so they are not looking for you.

(Also see Connecting Flights below.)

3. Travel Insurance

This may also be a really good time of year to buy that travel insurance.

For any international travel consider it necessary not optional, just include it and consider it a part of the cost of traveling. It does not cost that much. Check with your travel agent for their recommendations.

For domestic travel it is not as important, but can you afford an unplanned two or three nights stay in a hotel, + meals ++. Look at the cost and then decide if it would give you a peace of mind, or if you are not worried about delays.

My friend’s plane was delayed last year, so she spent the night near the airport. The next morning she woke up and was too sick to travel. She ended up staying a WEEK. Insurance can help reduce your liability if the worst case happens, only you can decide what is best for you.

4. Clothes

It is funny that some of my friends will wear several of their shirts during a flight instead of packing them. I would personally not do this only to save a little room in my suitcase.

You are going to want several layers. Typically as you are going indoors and out you will want to be able to adjust your body temperature by adding and taking off layers.  So think layers when you pack. This can also make it look like you have taken several outfits to wear, since you can mix and match to mix it up.

One thing I might wear on the plane is your bulkiest pair of shoes, like boots. If you are taking boots they can take a lot of valuable space in your suitcase, so you may want to consider wearing them. Only if they are not brand new or hard to walk in!

Rolling your clothes will help compact them into smaller spaces. Then you can take more! <smile>

Jackets are not counted as a personal item, so carry them on the plane with you. Again this will make more room in your suitcase and you may need it when you land. If you do carry it on, WAIT till all the carry-on luggage is stowed in the overhead bins before you stuff your jacket up there. Your plane will have a better chance of leaving on time if you allow people to get in their seats faster.

5. Connecting Flights

Remember if you are, let’s say, flying from San Diego to New York City you may have a connecting flight in Chicago. The weather may be sunny and beautiful in San Diego, but when you get to Chicago you get snowed in. Or you are in Houston and your plane is coming from a city experiencing bad weather and your connecting flight is cancelled.

Be prepared that you may be delayed in a city you are not familiar with. Airlines are usually very helpful, but if a lot of flights are being cancelled you will want to be able to find your own way.

How much further do you need to go? If it is within driving distance and it is important for you to be there now, you may think about renting a car. This is for extreme circumstances, but may fit your needs.

Time between connections can be important too. What if your flight is delayed leaving and your next flight is on time? Guess what you just missed your flight. I never book a connection with less than an hour between arrival and my next departure.

Another reason to have a longer connection time is most airlines do not offer meals like they use too. If you book your flight with extra time between you will have time to get a real meal. Something you can even plan in advance. Take a look at your connecting airport’s website and see what food and/or restaurants are available. This may also help you become familiar with were things are at that airport, which may come in handy for longer delays.

6. Patience and Planning

With your patience and planning you will have a great trip even if there are delays. Getting upset about a delay will not help your situation or get you there any faster.

Be sure to have things to entertain you! Like a Kindle or have movies (especially funny ones) to watch on your laptop; maybe even a deck of cards, game books like sudoku and crossword puzzles.

Do things to help you relax, like going for a walk or getting a cup of tea.

Happy Holidays and Safe Travels!

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