Traveling this busy holiday season? Here are some hacks to keep your travel experience as smooth as possible!
Packing for your trip
- Pack light! Pack just enough items that you need so that you have room to take home gifts/souvenirs from your trip if necessary.
- Try using compression bags or packing cubes for bulky items like sweaters and scarves, and pack your socks inside your extra pair of shoes to save room!
- Pro-tip: Bring a grocery bag to use as a dirty clothes hamper while travelling so you have it ready to throw into the washing machine when you get back home.
- Make sure all liquids, gels and creams are in your carry-on or personal item and are less than 3.4 oz and are all grouped together in one quart-sized bag. You’ll be asked to take this bag out when passing through security!
- Checking your bags? Put a sticker or tie a ribbon on your checked bags to make them easily distinguishable from other bags at baggage pick-up. This will also be them easier to identify in the rare case that they get lost in transit by the airline and you need to file a lost baggage claim.
- Take a picture of your passport picture on your phone and pack a photocopy with you, just in case you lose it or it gets stolen. This way you have a backup copy to expedite the process of getting a new one at the embassy. Leave a copy at home with a family member too, just in case!
Checking in and getting through the airport
- Lines may be long during this busy travel season, so you should plan to arrive at the airport at least 3 hours before an international flight and at least 2 hours before a domestic flight. Many airlines have strict cut-off times for checking in and will not allow you to board if you arrive at the airport too late.
- Be ready to pass through security so the lines go quickly. You’ll be asked to remove your shoes and coat, take your laptop out of your bag, as well as your bag containing any liquids, so have them ready to go.
- What to do if your connection is cancelled: It’s winter storm season, so expect flight cancellations and delays. In the unfortunate circumstance that this happens to you, always go to the airline’s customer service counter in the airport so they can help re-book you on the next flight. See more here.
On the plane
- Stay hydrated! Humidity levels on airplanes are quite low, so bring a refillable water bottle to fill up before heading on the plane. (You’ll need to make sure it’s empty before going through security)
- It’s flu season! Bring some anti-bacterial wipes to wipe down the table tray, seat belt, and seat pocket in front of you. These are very high-traffic areas for germs!
- Have everything you’d like to use in during your plane ride ready to go in your personal item (such as a backpack or purse) when boarding the plane. Once the overhead bins are closed, don’t plan on taking items from there until landing.
- If you don’t feel like lugging your carry-on around or lifting it up into one of those overhead pins, ask an airport agent if you can gate check it for free. In many cases, they’ll happily take it off your hands and you can pick it up at baggage collection after the flight.
- Bring non-liquid snacks from home such as granola bars, nuts, or crackers to save on expensive airport or plane prices.
- Bring entertainment such as coloring books or tablets for your kids to keep them busy on the flight.
- Don’t forget to bring headphones for in-flight entertainment. They can also work as ear plugs as well if you want to block out some of that loud engine noise.
- Wear comfortable clothes such as sweatpants or leggings on the plane when possible - avoid tight jeans.