If you’re traveling for the holidays this year, here are a few of my top tips for holiday travel to help navigate your trip!
Prepare for security
If you haven’t traveled in awhile, make sure your items are compliant for passing TSA carry-on regulations. TSA has a pretty extensive list of “What Can I Bring?” on their website and will also respond if you Tweet or reach out on social media in advance of your trip.
Be ready to take off your heavy coat and boots if you have them (even in pre-check they may set off the alarm). Be careful traveling with gifts as well – TSA recommends having those unwrapped in case anything needs to be inspected.
While you can’t take large liquids or gels in carry-on luggage, you can take pies, cakes, and completely frozen solid items! It’s also helpful if you can separate or easily access specific items that might set off the security machines – this will be anything shaped like a tool/weapon, bulk foods, organic materials (e.g., wooden objects), electronics, and things like printed photos that will trigger a chemical scan. There are also size requirements enforced for metal tools, scissors, sporting equipment, and instruments to name a few.
Know your airline and airport
Do a little research in advance to see what amenities or services are available in your airport, terminal area, and airplane. This is more widely available online today, and sometimes via the app for each specific service. For example, the terminals at ATL are all accessible after security, so if there is a specific meal I want I can go to it. However, at LAX, you can’t go between many of the terminals so you are stuck with the choices for your specific gate.
For airports, do a little research on your airport if you are unfamiliar or have a layover. This can help you prepare for food, travel time, or general things to do! Be sure to check for construction at the terminals; unusual transfers (e.g., inter-airport shuttle); or if you have a very early or late flight if there are any changes to opening times for security, parking, or other services.
Different airlines and plane models also offer different amenities onboard. In ATL, Delta is my go-to provider and their fleet generally provides an entertainment screen, USB port, and AC charger at every seat. They offer free messaging in flight but wifi for internet browsing is a little pricey without a membership. Southwest generally offers their entertainment portal on your own device and a good rate for wifi. But if the wifi goes out, nothing is available, so I always make sure to have downloaded entertainment and a charging bank on Southwest flights.
Prepare for crowds
Airports are traditionally busy during the holidays, and more recently there have been a lot more staffing shortages or other operational issues that can cause delays. Be prepared! Arrive early enough for your flight. Bring your own snacks or food if you don’t want to wait in line anywhere. Having enough time will help you give others a lot of grace who might need it.
If a flight gets delayed or there is bad weather, sometimes the airport itself can start to get crowded. During busy seasons I make sure I have a portable charging bank with me for my phone, and sometimes I will bring my own outlet splitter or surge protector if there is anything else I’ll need to charge to ensure I can get or share an outlet if needed.
Hope you have safe and happy travels!