There is no easy way to travel during the holiday season. This year appears to send a new curve with new security scans and pat downs that are all over the news and getting people nervous and aggitated. Airlines anticipate a 3.5% increase in travelers this holdiay season. If you have travel plans this season, remember there are a lot of people to process through the airports and getting frustrated or loosing your temper is not a good way to start a trip. Here are some tips to help you keep your wits about you in the midst of all the chaos.
Check in online (or with your smartphones) - This helps you confirm the flight time for any changes, print your boarding pass, some airlines will also let you prepay any baggage fees so you do not have to deal with payment and lines at the airport. Check online for the flight status again before you leave for the airport to make sure nothing has changed.
Minimze - You will want to pack light. If you don't it will cost you. Airlines are charging for extra bags and over weight bags. You will also find getting throught the screening process with extra bags is a big hassle. Make sure you pack clothes that you can mix and match. Clothes with lighter material that you can layer are the best way to pack. You also want to keep in mind that any gifts you are bringing can not be wrapped.
Carry on - With so many travelers and delays your carry on is your best friend during travel. Make sure you have a change of clothes in case someone spills or your bags get delayed. For this reason is is a good idea to include any medications that you need along with some sundries to get you through a day or two. Make sure you the sundries are limited to 3-ounce or smaller containers of liquids or gels and that you put them in a one-quart-size clear plastic zip-top bag before you leave home. Keep the zip-top bag at the top of your bag. Last but not least keep your entertainment items; book, crossword puzzle, ipod, etc. close to the top of the bag too.
Extra time - because of the new screening experts are suggesting arriving at the airport at lease 90 minutes early, 2 full hours is better. There is nothing worse that dealing with crowds while under pressue to make your flight. Don't put yourself in that position.
Simplify - You already know the screening process takes the longest part of the airport experience. Being prepared before the line can save you and others time. Have your ID and boarding pass easily accessible. As great as accessories are, they should be packed and not worn, they are just more items you have to remove during screening. Remove your coat, jacket, or sweater before entering the security line and drape them on your shoulders if you are cold. Make sure you also empty your pokets of loose change, keys and any other metal items into your carry on bag before you get in line. Slip on shoes are the easiest since you will have to remove them for screening. Your coat and shoes should go in one bin. If traveling with a computer, it must go in its own bin thru the xray.
Most important, try to stay patient, the travel and screening process is not easy on you, your fellow passengers, or the security employees.
Now once you've been through all of this, don't forget these tips for Flying in Comfort.
The days pillows and blankets supplied by the airlines are long gone. In reality you can still have this comforts and not have to share them with other travelers. Some arlines will let you purchase these items on board now but you can get much better quality from travel stores and bring them with you.
Blankets - Fleece blankets are available in a lot of stores and are very light to pack in your bag. Ladies a Pashmina, shawl, or large scarf is a great option too. There is a product on the market, Planecomfort, a microfleece blanket that is 50" x 60", inflatable pillow and nylon carry case.
Pillows - Pillows will help your neck or back from beig stiff and achy. Airports have travel neck pillows available but they will cost a lot. Try to pick one up at a travel store. The best ones are inflatable with a fleece cover. You can adjust them to your liking, then let the air out and they pack away to nothing. There is also a body pillow, the First Class Sleeper. This is also inflatable and is the height of the whole back of an airline seat.
Sleep Mask - The lastest design of sleep masks intrioduces a product called 40 Blinks. It is a foam-padded mask that molds to your face for extra comfort and will not leave marks on your face.
Noise cancelling headphones - block out the noice of your fellow travelers with noise cancelling headphones will give you a much more peacful rest and leave you feeling a little more energize. These come in a huge range of cost from $50-$300 but can be used in other noisy settings so you have to consider how much you might use them in other places in the future.