Traveling during the holidays can be stressful but nothing adds to the stress more than having to negotiate unfortunate situations that may have been avoided with a little preparation. Unfortunately, it’s easy to overlook the details that can help make our travels go as smoothly as possible. Here are my annual reminders to avoid making these simple mistakes during our holiday travel planning.
You Waited Too Long to Book Your Holiday Airline Tickets
I am sometimes caught in this situation when waiting on others to make decisions. The price then seems to keep inching up with each day that passes. Try booking one-way tickets if you know at least the departure or return date for sure. Then set up a flight alert tracker on Google flights for the remaining flight but don’t wait too long. You can also search for one-way award flights. Unfortunately, if you have to go to a specific spot on specific dates, you have limited options. In fact, as soon as you work out your holiday flights, you should start looking for your spring break tickets.
You Pack Gifts That Are Wrapped or That are Considered Liquids
Travelers are getting smarter and shipping gifts ahead of time but you still see wrapped gifts in carry-on bags at the TSA checkpoint. Don’t wrap your gifts whether in carry on or checked bags – TSA can and will open them. Another mistake is bringing jams, jellies, butters and other food products that are considered liquids in your carry-on bags. We see this happen at our airport as we live in a major cherry- producing area and travelers frequently throw these specialty food products into their luggage only to have them taken out by TSA.
Your Cold Weather Clothing and Toiletries are in Your Checked Baggage
Sure you’re flying to Florida and won’t need those winter coats. Why not just wear shorts so you’ll be ready for the nice weather on arrival? Was that your family I saw waiting for the hotel shuttle at Chicago O’Hare? Were you the travelers without your coats, dressed in shorts with airline blankets wrapped around your children? I noticed that you didn’t have your luggage either. Don’t be this family, they didn’t look happy.
You Book Flights With Short Connection Times
Remember, it is winter and chances are there will be snow, sleet, rain, and other inclement weather. There can also be de-icing, mechanical delays, and boarding issues. There will be cancelled and delayed flights. A forty-minute connection time isn’t a safe decision during the holiday season and the consequences of not making that flight are much higher. Normally you could hop on the next scheduled flight but during the holidays, those flights are full and you could be stranded much longer.
You Neglect to Check Your Aircraft Seating Arrangements Ahead of Time
Do yourself a favor and go online and see where you are seated. Check back occasionally and be sure you still have the seats you want. Don’t wait until you board to realize your family is not sitting together. It will frustrate your family, the flight attendants, and the other passengers trying to accommodate you. For tips on getting the best seats possible on the plane, read this previous post.
You Didn’t Have a Plan B.
You missed your connecting flight or your flight was cancelled, the lines to get rebooked are long, your phone is just about out of juice and your family is tired. What’s your plan B? Did you have the airline’s phone number programmed into your phone or the app downloaded, packed a battery pack for charging your phone, and checked out alternative flight schedules? Did you take note of which hotels are in the area of your connecting airport and which ones have rooms? You should have done this all before leaving home because once the event happens, everyone else will be scrambling for those available flights or hotel rooms. Being prepared allows you to act quickly and help you get on the next flight or spend the night in a comfortable hotel versus the airport.
You Didn’t Allow for Extra Time at the Airport.
If you miss your original or connecting flight because you didn’t allow enough additional time it can feel much worse than if it is the airlines’ fault. There will be more people traveling during the holidays and you have to allow extra time. If you do happen to breeze through check-in and security, the worst you’ll have to deal with is keeping entertained with the extra time you’ll have at the gate, or in the lounge. This is a much better scenario than missing your flight. Remember, flights are full and you may not get another seat on a plane for days.
Hopefully your holiday travels go smoothly and you’ll experience none of these issues. With that said, I’d certainly make the extra effort to be prepared and minimize the effect of the inevitable holiday travel snafu.
Any tips for avoiding unfortunate holiday travel events?
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