Holiday Travel Flight Tips

For many, flying over the holidays can be a real nightmare.  Long lines at the airport can quickly send the cheeriest of holiday travelers straight to bah-humbug land.  Some travel at Christmas time for pleasure, and starting off your trip with a headache is no way to head out on vacation.  Others travel out of necessity.  It’s a reality that many families are spread out from city to city and have to travel great distances to spend time with their loved ones at Christmas.  Whether you are taking a vacation or traveling to spend time with your family, a few tips can keep “bah, humbug” out of your holiday vocabulary.

Pack lightWith extra crowds at the airports, the last thing you want to deal with is maneuvering large, heavy or bulky pieces of luggage through the sea of people.  By packing light you will relieve a lot of frustration for yourself.

Ship ahead.  If you have holiday gifts to bring to your loved ones, you might think about shipping them ahead.  By doing so, you will avoid having to unwrap gifts at security check points as well as unload the extra weight from your luggage.

Be aware of travel restrictions.  With heightened security at the airports, travel restrictions are always changing.  Knowing what you can and cannot bring with you on an airplane can save you time and money at security lines.  Check the FAA ( or TSA ( websites for current information.

Check travel advisories.  Suggested airport arrival times often change during the holidays because of crowds or heightened security.  Check with your airline to see how early you should arrive before your flight.  You can also check flight status to see if your flight is late, on time, or cancelled.  This is highly recommended since weather conditions can be unpredictable around the holidays.

Make your luggage identifiable.  In order to avoid luggage mix-ups place a unique bow or ribbon on your suitcase so that it stands out from the others.  Stickers or other adhesive items also act as good identifiers.

Pre-check for your flight.  Many airlines now offer you the option to check-in for your flight online.  You can print your boarding pass from the comfort of your own home and then avoid long lines at the airport.  If you have luggage to check, you might opt for the electronic kiosks that some airlines offer.  You can also use these kiosks to check in.

Carry on luggage if possible.  In order to limit the chances of lost luggage, try to carry on your luggage instead of checking it.  If you must check you luggage because you have too much to pack or have items that cannot be carried on due to security regulations, then make sure to bring all essential items such as prescriptions with you in a small carry-on bag or purse.  It is also wise to pack a few essentials clothing items in a carry-on in case your checked items are lost.

Flying at the holidays does not need to be the nightmare it is often deemed.  By taking a few precautions and with a bit of planning you can survive the airports with your ho-ho-ho still chiming from your mouth.  If frustrations arise, try to smile through them and remember what the spirit of the holidays is about.

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  1. This is a great post. Good ideas here!

  2. Darlene Hull says:

    These are great tips, Wendy.

    As half of our family is “across the pond” (N. Ireland) we end up doing a LOT of plane travel. Other things you might want to think about:

    Don’t wear a belt or tie-up shoes. You often need to take them off in airport security – sometimes several times – so keep that kind of stuff very simple.

    Go to the airport well-hydrated, and stay well hydrated – it will help your body deal with the stress and all the air-conditioning.

    Record a good quality, 30 minute relaxation session on your MP3 player and listen to it often during the flight. It will bring you to your destination relaxed.

    If you’re changing several time zones, stock up on good quality melatonin to make the shift easily. If you have small kids, have your pediatrician suggest a mild antihistamine or or other calming substance that you can use for about 3 days to help them sleep through the night and adjust to the time zone more quickly.

    Hope those help!

    The Mom-Defrazzler