17 Holiday Travel Tips

Traveling and the end-of-year holidays go hand-in-hand like presents and wrapping paper. Millions of people across the globe travel via airplane to visit family, hang out with long-lost friends or even embark on a much-needed vacation. If you’re one of them, these holiday travel tips are a terrific cheat sheet to help you avoid common snags along the way.

Before Your Holiday Flight

Prepare for your flight by following these guidelines:

  1. Ask someone to keep an eye on your house. It will be one less thing on your mind, and your home won’t have an unoccupied look because the mail, newspaper and packages will be inside, not in the mailbox or left at the front door.
  2. Double-check your flight. Flights can be cancelled or delayed at the last minute, and you need to know this information to properly coordinate your arrival at the airport. Many airlines and airports offer text and email alerts so you can stay on top of this info.
  3. Consider taking only a carry-on. Do you absolutely need to check your luggage? Maybe not. See if you can put everything in a carry-on. You’ll be able to get out of the airport faster when the plane lands, and you won’t have to worry about items getting lost in transit. If you do have to check a bag, try to limit it to one rather than several.
  4. Pack lightly, including gifts. Traveling with gifts? Don’t wrap them. Security will just make you take off all the paper. Consider bringing gifts that are light, such as gift cards, or send your gifts ahead of time. As for your own luggage, pack once – and then take out about one-third of what you packed. Most people bring way too much.
  5. Grab all your documents. This includes any boarding passes, your passport, your ID and credit cards. If you have kids in your party, you may need documentation for them, such as a birth certificate. Check the airline to see what you need.
  6. Plan your long-term parking. Long-term parking at an airport can be tricky because most long-term parking venues are only modestly secure. Some are out in the open, leaving your vehicle at risk. Consider an off-site long-term parking location close to your airport where your car, truck or SUV will be safe, monitored and protected.
  7. Leave early. It’s no fun to wait forever at the airport, but it’s better than being late for your flight. Most domestic airlines recommend you get to the airport one hour before your flight, and international flights typically suggest a two-hour lead time. However, during the hectic holiday travel season, you’ll probably want to double that timeframe to be on the safe side.
  8. Do all check-ins online. Have the option of checking in for your flight online? Take advantage of it! This reduces check-in hassles.
  9. Wear items that won’t set off security alarms. Security will ask you to remove your shoes, your belt, any metal objects, your hat, your jackets and possibly other items. Prepare for this by dressing appropriately.
  10. Grab a cellphone charger. Yes, many airports offer cellphone/device charging stations, but why take the chance? Oh, and pack those headphones or earbuds while you’re at it.
  11. Pack your medications. These are must-have items, and you should double-check that they are in your carry-on.

During Your Holiday Flight

Be sure to do these things while in the air in order to make your trip easier:

  1. Remember that everyone is in a hurry to get to their destinations. In other words, you may have to be patient. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t expect to be given the service you deserve, but you might have to forgo the extra attention from flight attendants.
  2. Entertain your children. The crew isn’t going to be able to keep your children occupied, nor are other passengers. Stay on top of your child’s mood and behavior during the flight. Explaining the rules and expectations of traveling by airplane before you get on the plane will help you lay the groundwork for a smoother experience.
  3. Take it easy on the alcohol. Wait until you get to your destination to enjoy adult beverages.
  4. Expect the unexpected. Sometimes, flights are delayed, rerouted or cancelled. Your connecting flight might be postponed longer than you would like. In some cases, you may be able to get another flight by calmly talking to airline representatives. However, this isn’t guaranteed.
  5. Try to have a philosophical approach to the experience. Everyone knows holiday flying can feel a little chaotic. Be prepared for this in advance by accepting that it’s just part of the overall experience.
  6. Eat and stay hydrated. The last thing you need is to feel famished by the end of your flight. Bring along some healthy snacking options, as well as a bottle of water.

The more you plan ahead for success, the happier you and your travel companions will be. Have a safe holiday travel season, and remember SNAP Parking when you’re flying out of Newark Liberty International Airport!