Top 10 Travel Tips Keep Holidays Safe

Top Ten Travel Tips Keep Holidays Safe

Fly stress free

Some of us are the designated “go to” family members who yearly put on a spread for Thanksgiving or Christmas, or both (groan). Some of us are luckier, having escaped these 48-hour cook/serve/clean up food marathons, either by serving terrible or tasteless food the only time we were asked, or simply by claiming we couldn’t cook more than toast.

These lucky individuals (and their families) are likely traveling to get to that holiday meal. For some it means down the block or in a nearby city. For others, it requires airplane travel, which is no longer very pleasant thanks to TSA (Transportation Security Administration), though it remains the only fast way to get around the country.

For families who combine vacation with holiday travel, it’s an all-too-short break between Christmas and New Year’s. This break can be filled with marvelous neighborhood displays of Christmas lights, shopping centers bursting at the seams with shoppers, sales, glittering lights and more or less believable Santas offering children cushy laps and a friendly ear tuned to the word, “toy.”

Of course, these holiday vacations also involve somewhat disturbing TSA pat-downs, two-hour waits at the concourse, bored, tired, hungry and screaming offspring, lost luggage, and one suitcase filled with nothing but teddy bears – which is how your youngest daughter interpreted the instruction, “Pack only what you need!” I won’t even go into the flight delays or diversions due to weather, terrorism threats, and sick passengers, or the traffic jams the designated driver will encounter trying to get from LAX to Glendale Chevy Chase.

Catching a plane is never again going to be as straightforward and enjoyable as it was before 9/11. But there are things you, the traveler (and suitcase monitor, and ticket dispenser, etc.) can do to make it safer and less stressful:

  1. First, if anyone in your family or group has a health condition that requires injecting oneself with a pharmaceutical (Type 1 or 2 Diabetes, prostate cancer, low estrogen levels, arthritis, blood clotting, or severe iron-deficiency anemia), make sure you have the appropriate doctor’s note or prescription description for the various syringes, vials and injecti-pens you must carry.
  2. Second, make a list of the things you will need given the time of year and the type of weather to expect at your destination. Is it Minneapolis? A space suit may not keep you warm. In Ft. Lauderdale, you may find the ocean pleasant enough even in December for a little wading. The kids won’t care if they turn blue!
  3. If circumstances permit, book flights for Thanksgiving or Christmas day, instead of a day or more in advance. Fewer people travel on those days, and you may be able to get a discounted seat, or seats, and faster processing. You can also book return flights on off-peak days in order to get the same provision. For example, begin and end vacation in the middle of the week instead of on the weekend.
  4. Also, check with the airlines, preferably by telephone and at least two days in advance, to be certain the arrangements you made have not been changed by the airline to accommodate other passengers. You don’t want your wife and youngest children traveling on their own, or Grandma assigned a seat by herself in the back of the airplane.
  5. If the flight is to a city you’ve never been to, spend a family day studying the new terrain. Engage your offspring, who are oftentimes more observant than grownups. Pick the best places to see, the best entertainment, and the restaurants that meet your criteria – quiet and expensive for a couple, or inexpensive and tolerant for a family with small children.
  6. Thanks to new security initiatives aimed at keeping flying the safest form of travel, help TSA agents out by packing everything in see-through (compostable) plastic bags. It will not only keep your clothing and valuables from being handled unnecessarily, but prevent loss and the inevitable fingerprints if the aforementioned agents have to go through luggage item-by-item.
  7. Pack toys and gifts you intend to give relatives, but do not wrap them. The TSA checks all packages and will inevitably ruin your careful and artful packaging to insure you are not transporting dangerous or illegal items.
  8. To insure that what you pack is something allowed on the airplane by the TSA, visit the My TSA website. This helpful app also provides tips on packing and dressing to move through the security check-in process, and can even advise if your flight is for some reason delayed or cancelled.
  9. Pack cell phone chargers, batteries, jump drives and other electronic hardware. You never know when you and your electronic lifelines might be locked out of (or in) a room with no power, or separated due to natural or manmade disasters.
  10. Getting to, and returning from, your destination by air is going to be hectic and possibly miserable as well, but don’t blow your cool. Remain polite but firm, and realize that the jobs of the ticket clerks, TSA agents and flight attendants are grueling. Plus, they are working on the holiday, and you are not. Offer a little courtesy and a lot of sensitivity and you may find yourself being treated with equal courtesy, as your way is smoothed, your boarding time reduced, and your seating status upgraded thanks to unbooked seats or last-minute cancellations.

Honey still catches more flies than vinegar, as my Dad used to remind me every time I got snippy with someone.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: