While savvy travelers know how to find cheap travel optionssuch as cheapairplane tickets, cheapdeals, discount hotel rooms, cheap auto rentals, discounttravel deals, and cheap vacation packages overthe holidays, they often are less than happy about the long lines they facewhile traveling, as well as the short tempers, cramped planes and backed uphighways.
The following are tips on how to reduce your holidayhassles by avoiding common mistakes made by many a traveler, according to SarahSchlichter:
Do nottravel at the same time as everyone else. Planning on flying or driving home the Sunday after a holiday? So is the rest of America. By being flexible regarding your travel datesand times you can avoid the worst of the holiday crowds. This might result in your shortening yourweekend by a day or starting your drive bright and early.
Do notfly with wrapped gifts. Many a wrappedpresent is opened by a TSA agent when going through airport security ifsomething suspicious appears on an X-ray. Instead put your gifts into gift bags that are easy for TSA officers toaccess or stick with gift cards that do not need to be wrapped. Alternatively, buy everything online and haveit shipped to your destination to be wrapped there.
Do notallow the same amount of time you usually do to show up at the airport. 90 minutes before a flight might beappropriate in February, but it is not the best strategy when traveling overthe holidays. You will face potentialdelays including holiday traffic jams, packed economy parking lots, and snakingsecurity lines full of infrequent fliers who are not well versed with thelatest screening procedures.
Consider adding at least 30 to 60 minutesto your normal pre-flight routine and take steps to expedite your way throughthe airport such as reserving a spot at an off-airport parking lot, signing upfor TSA PreCheck, check in online in advance, and only bringing a carry-on sothat you can avoid the checked bag line.
Do notfly without first making a point of knowing your rights as a passenger. Know what you are entitled to if you arebumped from an overbooked flight or your airline loses your checked bag.
Do notover-indulge (whether eating or drinking alcohol) immediately beforeflying. While a hangover is unpleasant,suffering through it while crammed into an economy-class seat on a bumpy flightsurrounded by strangers is an experience to be avoided. Bloating and indigestion after eating a richholiday meal can be similarly unpleasant.
Never show up for a flight still inebriatedas there are few easier ways to get escorted off a plane before departure.
Have aplan ready that takes into account unpredictable winter weather. If there is any chance of snow or ice alongyour itinerary, you should have a backup plan ready. Research in advance alternative flights inthe event your original flight is canceled. Save your airlines phone number in your contacts so you can callimmediately for rebooking if your flight is canceled. When driving check the weather in advance andconsider traveling on a different day if your original departure date lookschallenging.
Do notoverstay your welcome with family or friends. While staying with loved ones can be a great way to spend quality timetogether as well as save money on lodging, family togetherness 24/7 can get oldfast. Be honest whether you and/or yourhosts might appreciate some privacy and space and consider checking into anearby hotel or vacation rental for at least part of your stay.
Do notkid yourself and expect a stress-free experience. If you assume you will experience a fewhiccups along the way, you will be less frustrated if they happen andpleasantly surprised if they do not. Armyourself with as much patience as you can muster, as well as stress busterslike a mediation app on your phone and/or simply a bag of your favoritesnack. Remember you will always betreated better by travel personnel (whether stewardesses or hotel clerks) ifyou smile and are kind vs. yelling and demanding.