In the coming days weary holiday travelers are sure to see their fair share of busy highways, crowded airports, and packed buses and flights. It’s no big surprise that the sheer number of people on the roads and in the skies creates a headache-inducing experience for many – both literally and figuratively. The good news is there are a few things you can do to take the headaches out of holiday travel.
Make Use of Helpful Apps
There are many apps that aim to make traveling a bit less stressful. My TSA, for instance, offers 24/7 access to the critical information passengers need to know, such as wait times, details on what items are permitted in checked and carry-on baggage, and other information.
If you’re traveling by car, the Waze App is a handy tool that offers real-time traffic and road information to help you plan the best route to grandma’s house while avoiding construction, congested highways, and other delays.
Start Early and Allow Plenty of Time for Unexpected Delays
Whether you’re traveling by air, car, or bus, plan to arrive early and allow ample time to cope with unexpected delays. Both the roads and skies are busier in the days leading up to the holidays, so flight delays and slow traffic patterns should be expected. If you’ve given yourself plenty of leeway, a delay or two won’t end up making you late for your mom’s famous pumpkin pie.
If Possible, Stay with Your Luggage
Before your trip the first thing you’ll want to do is make sure you’re up to date on the latest luggage size requirements and checked bag allowances for airlines. This will help you avoid any unforeseen delays and fees when it’s time for you to fly the friendly skies.
Then, on your travel date, try to stay with your suitcase and other luggage if possible. With so many travelers making their way through airports, bus stations, and the like, even attendants doing their very best to funnel everyone’s luggage to the right location can sometimes make mistakes. If you have to check your bags, attach a bright tag, scarf, or some other easily identifiable object so that you can quickly pick your bags out of the crowd. It’s also helpful to take a photo of your luggage so that you have a record in the event that your bags end up misrouted halfway across the country.
Sign Up for the U.S. Registered Traveler Program
Delays going through airport security are among the most common headache-inducing challenges of holiday travel. Trusted Traveler Programs offered by U.S. Customs and Border Protection can make getting through airport security for international travel a bit easier. Likewise, the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program is a service that allows people traveling abroad to register their trip with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate, providing updates about the conditions in your destination country and allowing the U.S. Embassy to get in touch with you quickly during an emergency.
Use Your Smartphone to Your Advantage
In addition to the many helpful apps that can help you travel more easily this holiday season, your smartphone can also be a valuable tool for backing up identification and documentation. If you have health conditions, for instance, you can take photos of any letters from your physician, prescriptions, and other health-related info that you might need in case of emergency. Do the same for your driver’s license, passports, and other travel-related documents. Should you lose your carry-on bag or luggage, you can still verify your identify and access critical health information if needed.
Create a Travel Emergency Kit
There are a multitude of issues that can create travel delays over the holidays. A holiday travel kit can save the day should you find yourself stuck in the airport for several hours or even overnight. Your travel kit should include things to help pass the time, like books and magazines, some snacks and beverages, backup batteries for your tech, a neck or back pillow, and anything else that will help keep you (and your family or travel companions) comfortable during the unexpected.
Holiday travel doesn’t have to be a drag. While it’s wise to expect the unexpected, a bit of strategic planning and a flexible approach will help you roll with the punches and cope with whatever obstacles the holiday travel madness happens to throw your way.
**PHOTO CREDIT: Image via Flickr by Jason**
Jennifer McGregor co-created the site PublicHealthLibrary.org to help people find reputable information on health topics. Her mission is to push reputable health information to the forefront and make it easier to find.