When traveling by air, there are a few more things to deal with. If you add the holiday season traffic, you will have some additional planning to do.
Two things that will keep the chaos under control is a to-do list and a pre-planned calendar. You can check off activities that need to be done before the day of travel. Even someone that is well traveled still has issues that pop up from time to time. There are some things, such as weather, that cannot be avoided no matter how much preparation was done ahead of time. The way to help combat this is to make a thorough checklist, but do not let the long list stress you out. Instead, use it as the guide it is intended to be. Your calendar should start several months before you go. Here are five things passengers can do well ahead of the holiday travel season to prepare for that always-busy time of year.
1 - Check Your Passport and ID
If traveling internationally, you will need a valid passport, and it must be good for six months past the date you return on. It takes several months to renew a passport so calendar accordingly. If you have never had a passport, you can pay extra and a get rush delivery, but to relieve some of the stress of international travel, it is a good idea to give yourself and your traveling companions plenty of time to get the document.
An often-overlooked ID is the driver’s license. If you are going to be renting a vehicle, it is necessary to have a current license. Many DMVs require an appointment, and the meeting may be several weeks out. This is something that can be taken care of well in advance too.
2 - Pick Out Your Luggage
Each airline you may travel on has their own rules concerning extra baggage and carry-on pieces. This information is readily available on their websites. If you are taking a carry-on, know how many you are limited to and what the maximum size is. Checked bags are stowed underneath the plane, and you will want to know how many each passenger is allowed and if there is a fee. If the suitcase exceeds the airline's weight limit, they will charge you extra to bring it.
During Christmas, many passengers will be carrying gifts, and airport screening will x-ray them, but if they deem it necessary, they will unwrap and open the present, so if possible, leave it unwrapped or mail it ahead of your trip.
3 - The Airport and Parking
Map out where the departing and landing airports are and estimate how long it will take you to arrive there. Add extra time due to holiday traffic.
If you are parking at the airport, make sure to add additional time for the commute from the parking structure to the terminal. Count on there being a lot of traffic, passengers carrying more baggage than usual, and many unseasoned travelers. Depending on your location, weather may have to be factored in also. Air traveling during the holidays means planning for everything to take longer.
4 - Flight Schedules, Delays, and Cancellations
Frequently during the winter months, flights can be canceled or delayed. Start checking the flight status the night before you are set to depart than keep checking it. Many airlines have apps now that you can download and monitor your flight. If it is delayed and you have a connecting flight, immediately go to the ticket counter to make new arrangements. Have your hotel or accommodation phone numbers or emails handy to alert them you will be late.
If the flight is canceled or is delayed for more than three or four hours, check with the airline about compensation. Currently, the airlines in the US are not required to compensate for canceled or delayed flights, but many offer food vouchers, gift certificates, or future flight discounts.
5 - Download Books, Music, and Videos
Be prepared to wait. Check with the airline about how far ahead of the holiday flight you need to arrive at the airport. You probably will be spending time sitting in the terminal waiting to board the plane. You will need a lot of patients when flying during vacation times, so one way to ease the pain is to have plenty of entertainment. Have you ever wanted to watch an entire TV series in one sitting? This occasion might be a good time to watch it or bring that book you have been meaning to read. If you are flying with children, have plenty of things for them to do. Bring several chargers.
Flying during the holidays to visit family or friend