How to Travel Stress-Free During the Holidays - Page 2

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 (iStockphoto)

Flying direct isn't always the cheapest option, but if you’re aiming for healthy holidays with low stress, then consider that your chances of missing a flight connection and losing your luggage diminish if you fly non-stop. If you or someone in your party will need wheelchair assistance, don’t assume you will be able to get a wheelchair easily at the airport. The increase in traffic will mean that all airport resources will be stretched. Notify your airline well in advance of your flight if you would like wheelchair assistance.

If you're taking any gifts (even in your carry-on), resist the urge to wrap them. The most mundane items can look suspicious in an x-ray machine. If security flags your bag to be checked, they won’t waive the search just because the suspicious item is all wrapped up pretty. If security needs to see what is inside your wrapped gifts, they will open them, which is a waste of everyone’s time and perfectly good wrapping paper. Furthermore, resist the urge to pre-bake your famous pie and carry it on board with you. The “no liquids” rule can extend to gelatins and delicious creamy treats—especially if they’ve melted or liquefied en route to the security check.

This is the time of year when flights are delayed left and right thanks to the weather. Airports get overcrowded with stranded passengers. Confirm your flight time before you leave home. You'll have less stress at the airport if you know what you're facing in advance or can avoid it by waiting it out at home. Check your flight status on your airline’s website or by calling its 800 number. On the flipside, you do want to go to the airport early. You never know what weather and traffic will do to your trip to the airport. The recommended airport-arrival time is at least 90 minutes before a domestic flight and 120 minutes before an international flight. Plus, security lines can be extra-long and slow during the holidays, as more people who generally do not fly and are not prepared for security clog up the lines.

Avoid parking your car at the airport lot and either arrange transportation to the airport or park at a non-airport lot that offers free shuttles to the terminals. With the increased number of passengers flying, the airport lots fill fast, leaving you circling for a spot when you should be waiting at your gate.

By packing light and taking just a carry-on, you’ll most likely save money on baggage fees, and you can skip right past the baggage carousel at your destination and be halfway home before the rest of your co-passengers have claimed their bags.

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