Planning Ahead Can Make Travel During the Holidays Less Stressful
I can’t believe that we are almost a month away from the holiday season! I usually start thinking about holiday travel plans around Halloween, but this year, I’m getting married in a destination wedding over the Thanksgiving holiday, so I’ve been planning for the last eleven months. If you are planning to fly to see family or get away during the holidays, knowing a few little tips may make life a bit easier.
Booking Your Travel
Preparing for Your Trip
- Book the first flight of the morning. Yes, you may be getting up in the middle of the night to get to the airport, but what you lose in sleep you gain in the likelihood that your flight will leave on time.
- Book your flight on Thanksgiving or Christmas morning. While everyone fills the airport on the days before and after, you will have a quiet airport on the actual day of the holiday. If you booked the first flight of the morning, you will be at your destination early enough to enjoy plenty of time with your family or exploring your destination.
- If you must take connections, give yourself plenty of time. This is especially true for people with disabilities, as you may need the extra time to get to gates, use the restroom, etc. Also, weather can be a factor during the holiday season, and you don’t want to have to stress about whether you will make your connection. I try to give myself at least 90 minutes between flights.
- If you have a disability, make sure you communicate your needs during booking. Your information will be recorded in their manifest, which should make your departure a bit smoother. Also, make sure you read our tips for traveling with a manual wheelchair, power chair, medications, service dogs, and oxygen. Make sure you also know your rights during air travel.
- Read our tips for booking hotels and cars.
- If you have a lot of gifts, ship them ahead. The costs will be far less than the aggravation of hauling a bunch of gifts through security, or paying for extra baggage.
- Pack lightly, and try to travel with just a carry on. You can always do a load of laundry or use the sink at your destination, if necessary. Don’t forget to pack your liquids according to the 3-1-1 guidelines.
- If you need to take medical supplies, be sure to create a carry-on bag that only contains medical supplies and is tagged as such. The airlines cannot charge you or prohibit you from taking medical supplies on board. However, do not put anything of a non-medical nature in the bag, or it will be disqualified.
- If you have a disability, go to the TSA Cares website for guidance on security measures. I recommend printing out the page pertaining to your type of disability and carry it with you.
- Make sure you check in the day before and get your boarding pass, but be prepared to stop at the check-in counter if you have a wheelchair, scooter, or other equipment that needs to be inspected.
- Consider packing some lightweight, healthy, non-perishable snacks in case of flight delays or bad airport food.
- Make sure you are well hydrated prior to and during your trip. Travel has a tendency to dry people out a bit.
- Make photocopies of your passport, id, and credit cards. Keep one set at home and one set with you in case something is stolen.
- Go to bed early the night before and get a good night's sleep
The Day of Travel
- Consider using a travel pouch on a lanyard to carry a credit card, your id/passport, and some cash so that you don’t have to fumble in your bags around during security or check-in.
- Have a friend or loved one drive you to the airport. It's so much nicer than trying to park and taking shuttles. Plus it's a lot cheaper!
- Get to the airport early. It is much less stressful to wait at your gate than to stress out through the security line.
- Bring your Kindle or a book, a snack, and relax.