How To Survive Holiday Travel: Hacks That Will Save Your Sanity

Blog | November 13th, 2019

The holidays are a time to take a break from work, sit around the table with your family, and take the time to remember what you’re thankful for.

The biggest thing not on the list? Holiday travel. Particularly, getting on the plane to get to the Thanksgiving table in the first place.

To help you stay sane this holiday season, we’ve provided six tips to make getting around a lot easier. You can thank us later.

Apply for TSA PreCheck

For only $85, you can make getting through security a breeze. Ninety-three percent of PreChecked passengers wait only five minutes in line, and they don’t even have to take off their shoes, belts, light jackets, laptops, and liquids.

All you have to do is apply online, do a 10-minute background check, and wait to be approved. If you go spend the time doing it before the holidays, you can speed past those through the mile-long line waiting to see their families.

Make Your Luggage Stand Out

Once you’ve landed, waste no time picking out your luggage from the lineup. Use colorful duct tape or other markers to mark your luggage so you can spot it the second it comes out on the conveyor belt.

Some ideas:
  • Add ribbons or brightly colored tape.
  • Spell out your initials with tape.
  • Dress your suitcase up in an ugly holiday sweater.

Not only will it save you time, but it prevents someone else from accidentally (or purposefully) taking your luggage. Luggage theft has been on the rise, particularly during the holiday season, since most suitcases carry valuable gifts for people’s loved ones. Avoid the chances of luggage theft slowing you down by making your suitcases boldly stand out.

Those were six helpful tips to keep you sane this holiday season. Make a list of them if you have to days before you’re supposed to travel. Check it twice.

Leave Several Hours Earlier Than You Think You Need

Most people try to get to the airport about two hours before their flight starts. Some people live on the dangerously and leave later, which is fine, depending on where you live.

But if you’re traveling to an airport in a big city, especially during the holiday rush, you’ll have to leave much earlier than you’re used to.

Way earlier, in fact. If you have an afternoon flight, for example, get to the airport in the morning. You can slog through security (if you don’t have PreCheck) and mozy on over to your gate with hours to spare.

Feeling like you’re going to miss your plane isn’t fun. It’s notably worse knowing that airlines most likely can’t put you on the next flight to your destination due to so many people flying.

Save yourself the spike in blood pressure and pretend your flight is at least three hours earlier than it actually is.

Related: 9 Useful Smartphone Apps That Can Help You Save

Spare No Detail

Know precisely what part of the airport your luggage check-in is at so you can beeline directly there. Double-check the airline you booked with, the gate you have to go to, and quadruple check the time your plan not only boards but takes off.

Once you have the flight itinerary memorized, factor in how you’re going to get to the airport. Public transportation? Uber? Ask yourself if you’ll expect delays getting to the airport, and what you would do if you hit significant delays in your road time.

Finally, make sure you have enough space to carry whatever gifts you want to give to your friends and family. Are the teddy bears already packed in your suitcase for your little cousins? Have you thoroughly bubble wrapped the mug for your mom?

Make sure all the presents you intend to give to people are actually in your luggage, not sitting on your bedroom floor near where you packed.

Don’t be the person smacking their forehead in the middle of the security line because they forgot something important.

Have a Back-Up Plan for Everything

You’ve gotten to the airport hours early, just in time to get a message on your phone saying your flight has been canceled. Great.

To rebook quickly, save your airline’s customer service number as a contact in your phone. That way, you don’t have to lose precious minutes Googling the number at the airport.

Since everyone from your flight will be trying to reschedule, call up your airline’s international or foreign language service. If you know a second language, you can use it. Otherwise, you can most likely get away asking to speak in English.

Inclement weather or overbooked flights happen. Expect the unexpected with every conceivable “What if?” scenario you can think of and plan ahead.

Pack Extra Portable Chargers

Lots of airports have charging stations where they pamper their customers with free access to electricity. The problem is, everyone and their whole family are using them. Or half of them don’t even work.

You can make long hours in the airport fly by with those pre-downloaded Netflix movies on your phone, tablet, or computer. Ensure you can actually watch them by packing lots of extra batteries.

Portable chargers get cheaper every day, especially smaller ones for your phone. If you want to finish those business reports or assignments before hopping on your plane, you can invest in a portable laptop power bank. They’re a little pricier, but they’ll ensure you have enough juice to binge-watch a season or two of your favorite show while you wait to board.