How to Reduce the Stress of Holiday Travel

The Holidays are fast approaching, and it is travel season. If you don’t travel all the time, this can cause some anxiety. Especially when you’ve got an entire family to manage throughout the process.  As always, the best way to prepare for holiday travel with your family is to prepare for it!  From TSA to flight delay, make sure you have a way to get around anything the holidays throw your way.

Here are some tips to make your travel as worry free as possible.

Get through TSA Faster

If you travel frequently, you will want to get on the TSA pre-check list, which will help you avoid all kinds of unpleasant hassles in the line. If traveling internationally, get trusted traveler status, and at least you will speed up your process coming back through US Customs.

However, even if you do not travel often, you can use these keys to get through security faster.

  • Check TSA Wait Times before you go, and give yourself time to get through the line.
  • Wear the right shoes: slip-ons are best, laces and buckles are more trouble.
  • Go left: most people are right handed, and so if you choose the line to the left, you will get through faster.
  • Liquids: have your liquids (3.4 oz. or 100 ml or less) in a clear, quart sized bag for inspection.
  • Remove all jewelry that might set off the metal detector and put in in your carry on. You can put it back on after the checkpoint.
  • Travel light, and put extra items in your carry on before you get in line to avoid needing too many bins.
  • Keep your pockets empty
  • Use the My TSA app (Android or iPhone) to answer any questions.

If you can get through security without a hitch, your trip will be off to a good start.

Tag and Lock Your Luggage

Get TSA approved luggage locks, and if you have to check your luggage, use them. Lost luggage can be a huge hassle, so be sure your luggage tags are up to date.

Also, be sure you have enough clothing to last a couple of days in your carry on just in case. Last year, airlines mishandled 6 of every 1,000 bags, and consumer complaints doubled. Be sure you are both protected and prepared.

If your luggage is delayed or damaged, be sure to report it right away. Any delay can result  in your claim being denied.

That being said, one of the most common causes of luggage being lost is that a traveler forgets to pick it up at baggage claim, and it is not tagged properly. In the excitement of arriving at your destination, don’t forget to grab your bag.

Check the Weather

How likely is it that your flight can be delayed or cancelled? Of the primary reasons is weather, and the more you know about what is going on in your transfer cities or the city where you are going to land, the better you can be prepared.

In addition to the clothes you have in your carryon bag, have chargers for all of your electronic devices. This way if you are stranded in an airport for an extended period, you have a way to communicate and something to do. You may even want to bring a paperback or book you can read. Also, those traveler’s pillows can come in handy if you need to catch a few winks of sleep.

The cities you route through when you book your ticket are another thing to consider. If you are connecting through Phoenix, Dallas, or Atlanta you are less likely to encounter weather related delays. When you route through northern cities like Chicago, you may be more likely to face weather issues.

The good news is if you are delayed, you can often get compensation from the airline. Although laws in the United States do not require them to compensate you, most will if you ask. You can even hire an advocate to help you receive flight compensation, and they simply get a percentage of whatever you recover.

Remember, it never hurts to ask. Compensation often comes in the form of flight vouchers or miles, sometimes even hotel rooms depending on how long your flight is delayed.

Be Flexible

Around the holidays, flights are full, and everyone wants to arrive on time. Sometimes airlines will overbook flights, and offer cash incentives for you to take a later one. Being flexible not only means less stress for you, but it could mean some extra cash in your pocket.

In addition, being flexible at the time you book can also offer you significant travel savings. Late night, or red-eye flights are often less expensive, or travel a few days either side of the most popular dates like when children get out of school or return. Often if you travel on the holiday itself, you can save some real money, and the flights will be less crowded.

You can keep your holiday travel worry and stress free. Being prepared is one of the most important things. Be ready for the TSA security and allow yourself extra time to get through. Take care of your luggage, and be sure to keep track of it the best you can. Make sure the tag is updated with your current address and a phone number where you can be reached at your destination.

Check the weather, and be flexible with the dates and times you can travel, knowing you can get better deals and even cash incentives in some cases. Your holiday travel will go more smoothly, and that will make your time away that much sweeter.






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