We’re all for travelling whenever the occasion calls, but one time of year that tends elicit more frustration than joy for almost everyone is the holidays. Frequent flier or not, holiday travel can quickly take the fun out of your vacation, especially if delays, missing luggage and cancelled flights become part of the equation. So how do you arrive at your destination without feeling frazzled? Read our 6 tips to find out how to survive the holiday madness.
1. Fly Non-Stop
A layover is an easy way to leave you stranded mid-journey. Do yourself a favour a book a non-stop flight. If that’s not an option at least be conscious of your connecting port and try to avoid destinations that tend to have delays due to bad weather.
2. Send Gifts Ahead of Time
Let’s face it, it’s hard enough to even shop for presents before heading home, but when it comes to flying with gifts you’re better off letting them travel without you. Aside from the fact that these extra items will weigh you down (overweight luggage is not a friend of anyone), but if your bags need to be checked by airport security and you’ve done pre-wrapping, your organizing efforts will all be wasted. Plus we’re not even going to talk about the possibility of your luggage getting lost en route.
3. Avoid Peak Travel Dates
Generally the dates around Christmas tend to be the busiest when it comes to airport traffic. Specifically, December 23, 26 and 27, you’ll find people heading to-and-from their destination. For New Year’s, travel January 2 tends to be the busiest day. You can save yourself a lot of hassle (and ticket prices) by travelling on December 25 and January 1. Don’t like the idea of travelling on a holiday? Consider going very early or late in the day.
4. Don’t Check Your Bags
Unless your travel plans involve hitting the slopes or you’re going to be away longer than a week, consider travelling with just a carry-on. Why? You’ll avoid extra luggage fees, save time (no waiting at the carousel!) and completely eliminate the possibility of lost luggage. If you’re worried about toiletries, either borrow some at your destination (hey, mom won’t mind) or pack TSA-approved minis — there are tons of airplane-friendly options out there.
5. Plan Ahead for the Airport
While you can’t do much about delays or long lines, you can save yourself time by checking in ahead of time. Many airlines allow a check-in 24 hours prior to departure and even let you print your boarding pass, which means when you arrive at the airport you can head straight to security (assuming you’re not checking a bag). If you don’t have a printer at home, take advantage of the self check-in kiosks, which tend to have shorter lines. And — don’t be late! Even if you’re ready to go in advance, flights do get overbooked and you could get bumped or worse not make it to the gate in time and then you’ll really be frazzled.
6. Carry Comforts
Screaming kids, chatty passengers and grumpy attendants are all a possibility. Keep yourself calm and distracted with reading materials (hello, Kobo), music, a cozy scarf and a large bottle of water to keep hydrated. When you arrive at the gates, you’ll be cool, collected and definitely in the holiday spirit.