Traveling during the Christmas season has its own unique set of challenges. With everyone trying to get home and see their loved ones, airports are often overwhelmed with stressed out airline workers and impatient passengers.
Essentially, the airport has created the perfect storm to completely disrupt your Christmas travel plans.
But with a few adjustments and proactive measures, you can be one step ahead of the game and keep TSA and greedy airlines from ruining your day.
Traveling via airport during Christmastime is not for the faint of heart – but you can make it work if you do things right.
DO NOT Check A Bag
Yes, we tell you all the time here at Proud American Traveler to never check a bag.
Maybe you’ve listened to us in the past, and maybe you haven’t.
But if you insist on going your own way and do check a bag during the Christmas season – be warned. You are just asking for trouble.
Besides the chance of your bag getting lost with bad weather and canceled flights, who knows if you’ll actually be flying your original route.
Trying to track down your bag (along with everyone else trying to track down their bag) and waiting in long lines to report your missing bag will seriously damper your holiday cheer.
And you’ll waste precious time.
Not to mention, if you have a short vacation trip booked you might not even receive your bag in time for Christmas.
Just don’t do it.
Figure Out Alternate Routes
Plan for the worst-case scenario and assume your flight will get canceled and rerouted.
And if your hope is in airline officials to work hard to get you on the next available flight – don’t bet on it!
Instead, if you have a few alternate routes already figured out (and the numbers of the airline companies saved in your phones), you can quickly switch your route should your original flight get canceled.
Other travelers with airline status go so far as having a back-up flight already booked 24 hours in advance, then they can cancel it last minute without a fee.
Before You Book
If you are not on a direct flight, consider your connecting airport. If you are flying through snow havens like Chicago or Minnesota – expect to get delayed.
Instead, see if you can connect through an airport with better weather.
And try and book your flight early in the morning so you have time to work out alternate flights should your flight get canceled.
In addition, leave for the airport early.
Remember, everyone else is on the roads traveling to see their loved ones too.
Consider not only the security backlog at TSA, but the traffic to even get to the airport.
If you can, UBER or get a ride to the airport and don’t even think about driving and parking during peak holiday times.
You might not get a spot.
It should go without saying – but make sure you’re ready for holiday travel.
This means having your phone and laptop fully charged should you be forced to suffer through a delay at an airport.
Have healthy snacks like fresh fruit and almonds in your bag so you don’t have to wait in a grueling line to pay $17 for a dry hamburger.
Make sure to dress in layers – you can always take off a layer if hot or bundle up if the airport is freezing.
Bonus treats like noise canceling earphones and a neck pillow do wonders.
The airport is already hectic enough, but Christmastime is a whole new ballgame.
Besides being prepared, don’t forget to bring your patience!
Chances are many people who travel during the holiday season are not seasoned travelers, and don’t understand how to get through the TSA line efficiently – they’ll stumble to take off their shoes and find their toiletries.
They’ll delay you and everyone else.
In addition, expect to find the airport workers more frustrated than usual having to deal with a slew of confused people.
But if you implement our helpful tips, you’ll be able to survive Christmas travel and get home to celebrate with your loved ones.
Keep your eyes on the main prize, and don’t stop to kick every barking dog.
We at Proud American Living wish you a safe and speedy Christmas travel experience!
(h/t Proud American Traveler)