We’re All on the Move at the End of December. Avoid the Headache With These Tips.
Written By: Nick Pachelli
The holidays are notorious for being the worst time of year to travel. In fact, over 100, 000, 000 million people are expected to travel for the holidays this year. They’re going by car, train and, of course, by plane.
Weather is changing flight paths and schedules every second across America making for long days, traffic, dreadful airport connections, missed baggage… you get it. We know there’s little you can do when it comes to picking your days to travel, so here are a few travel mistakes to avoid as you head out to spend time with family (and when you’re on your way back home).
Mistake #1: Checking In at the Airport
Every airline nowadays has an app and they all allow you to check-in ahead of time. It’s always best to check-in online and either print your boarding pass at home or have it emailed to your phone. You can also use the app to check your flight status and see where your plane is coming from—this will give you a good idea as to whether or not there will be a delay. Often times planes coming out of the Northeast and Southeast US are delayed because of weather.
Mistake #2: Forgetting Snacks
Everyone is in a rush out the door when headed to the airport for holiday travel and they forget to feed themselves. At the airport, lines are epic for a simple water and plastic-wrapped turkey sandwich. Fill a few Ziploc bags with nuts or pack some extra Nutri-Grain bars to hold you over until landing. If you have a jar or packable tupperware handy, pack the remaining fruits and veggies from the fridge and hit the road. You can easily snag a dipping sauce like Ranch or BBQ sauce at the airport.
Mistake #3: Cutting it Close (and Not Using GateGuru)
Yes, we know everyone says this: Get to the airport early. Don’t be surprised when you see how long the security line is. The TSA often misaligns personnel as they distribute employees to different terminals which results in higher volumes in certain areas. Avoid having to look at your watch every thirty seconds and get to the airport 30 minutes earlier that you think is necessary. Also, use the app GateGuru to give you real-time information on gate changes and time estimates for how long it will take you to get to your gate in time for boarding.
Mistake #4: Going With the Flow When Weather Hits
If you know there’s a big storm charging across the county and there are already delays and cancellations abound, get out in front of the travel disaster. Check your flight status 24 hours ahead of time and be aware of alternative options for your route, timing and connections. Also, don’t be afraid to get on the phone with your airline early. There are no federal regulations for airlines regarding delays and cancellation policies. So, when weather wreaks havoc, you are your own travel agent that will need to be on the phone and at the airline desk remedying your own situation. If you foresee weather being an issue, research other options with your airline and get them on the phone sooner rather than later. Often times they will rebook you for free if they already have delays and cancellations abound.
Mistake #5: Winging the Drive
Many are not taking to the air but driving over the next few weeks. If you’re doing this, plan your drive accordingly. Weather. Traffic. Closures. It can, and will, impact your travel time. Make sure to check Google Maps and Waze for real-time traffic updates so you’re not surprised when you hit the road. You can also try driving in the middle of the day or at night to avoid high volume times. (Don’t forget the tip about snacks, too).
Pre-Christmas Mistake: Wrapping Your Gifts Ahead of Time for Packing
Wrapping your gifts and putting them in your packed luggage will only take up more space. Also, if your bag is flagged and checked by the TSA, all the time you spent wrapping your gifts will be wasted as the TSA agent opens them to see what’s inside. Also, use a bigger bag to leave some room for gifts you receive. You don’t want to end up sending yourself a package home because you can’t fit that large coat you got from your mom/aunt/son/cousin.