Headed somewhere fun for the holiday season? Lucky! Before you head out, however, we thought we’d help you out with a few super helpful insider tips and tricks to make traveling a little less stressful. Let’s face it: the airports are going to be hella crowded, there’s always the potential for snow (and therefore flight delays) and let’s not forget last-minute luggage drama. We can’t guarantee nothing will go wrong en route to your destination, but these travel hacks will definitely help ensure some things go smoothly.
1. Don’t pack what you can’t carry. This may seem obvious, but it can’t be overstated. You may think some nice fellow will help you lift your stuffed carry-on into the overhead bin, but he might not. That’s why it’s so important that you only travel with what you can manage by yourself.
2. Carry an empty, reusable water bottle in your purse. Everyone knows you can’t carry liquids through the security checkpoint, but there’s no rule about water bottles. Put an empty one in your purse, then fill it up at a water fountain once you’re through security. You’ll save at least $3 on an overpriced Poland Spring bottle, plus it’s better for the environment.
3. Sign up for TSA pre-check. It’s probably a little late for this one for Christmas travel, but if you fly often it’s well worth the $100 application fee. If you’re approved, you’ll be able to bypass long security checkpoint lines at select airports. Click here to apply.
4. Invest in bright or patterned luggage. This way you’ll have no problem identifying it on the baggage claim carousel.
5. Re-book a cancelled flight over the phone. What happens when a flight gets cancelled? Everyone rushes the ticket agent to book the next available one. To avoid the huge line and get faster service, just call your airline to make alternate arrangements.
6. Designate your checked bags “fragile.” If you’re checking luggage, ask the ticket agent to put a fragile sticker on your bags. Not only will this ensure nothing gets stacked on top of your bags, but it also usually means your bags make it onto the baggage carousel first.
7. Avoid baggage fees. It may seem like every airline charges you to check luggage, but both Southwest and JetBlue let you check one bag for free.
8. Outsmart pickpockets. Airports are like breeding ground for petty thieves, so in addition to keeping a close grip on your personal belongings, consider having a decoy wallet more easily accessible than your real wallet. Another option? Keep your cash, cards and ID in different places so a thief is only likely to make off with one, not all of these essentials.
9. Pack your own blanket. Not only will it keep your warm on a super air conditioned flight, but it can also serve as a buffer when you need to rest your head on the germ-covered seat back or window.
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