Can you believe it’s already November? It seems like just yesterday the Tigers were finishing up spring training and I was golfing on a weekly basis. Now that the Tigers just wrapped up their season with a trip to the World Series and I haven’t golfed in over a month, reality has set in that the holidays are right around the corner.
Traveling can be a hassle. Between delayed flights and lost luggage, something always seems to go wrong. The frenzy gets even worse when it comes to traveling during the holidays. While the number of travelers increases, the opportunity for mistakes grows, too.
According to a study by NerdWallet, a personal finance analysis website, the rate of mishandled luggage in December increased by as much as 35%, compared to the annual average between 2008–2010. It’s even worse in January, when the rate of lost or damaged luggage is 43% higher than the annual average. I don’t know about you, but when I travel, I like to complete my trip with as little amount of stress as possible. It doesn’t sound like any fun losing my suitcase or being stranded at the airport for hours on end. Am I right?
As you begin making travel arrangements over the next couple months, wouldn’t it be nice if you had a guide to look over to ensure your trip goes as smooth as possible? If so, you’re in luck! Follow the tips below and you’ll be sure to remember your holiday travels for the good times you had as opposed to everything that went wrong.
Holidays, in general, generate an increase in travelers. Whether it’s college kids going home to see family or families taking advantage of time off work and school, the number of travelers escalates. This fact alone makes it all the more important to get travel and accommodation reservations way ahead of time. Also, the earlier you book, the cheaper you’ll pay. If you wait until the last second, you’ll most likely either find out you can’t book the dates you were hoping to or you’ll have to pay an arm and a leg.
If you must book your flight or hotel at the last second, shop around. Use sites such as Travelocity or Priceline to search for the best deals. Don’t settle for the first flight you come across. You might be pleasantly surprised at what you find if you do a little research.
Don’t take the chance of missing your flight. Expect there to be traffic jams and long lines to get through security at the airport. If you have to check a bag, that will take up even more time. Would you rather get to the airport way ahead of time (and make your flight) or be stuck waiting to catch another flight because you didn’t give yourself enough time? You should arrive at least two hours ahead of your scheduled departure for domestic flights and three hours ahead of time for international flights.
Actually, if at all possible, find a different route to deliver gifts. If you have a large collection of gifts you plan to fly with, you’ll most likely find yourself waiting as security goes through and unwraps each individual item. Either pay the extra bucks to have the gifts checked, or if you must take them on the plane, leave them unwrapped and accessible.
Don’t be the person who’s fumbling around in their purse or wallet looking for their passport, driver’s license, or boarding pass. Make all documents you may need accessible at any time. If for some reason you’re running late, you’ll save yourself some time by not having to go through the hassle of finding individual documents.
This tip can be applied to a couple different situations. As I’ve mentioned, flights are oftentimes delayed during the holidays for a variety of reasons. Call ahead and check to see if your flight is going to depart at its scheduled time.
If you’re carrying oversized items, such as golf clubs, you’ll want to check with the airline to see what their policy is and determine how you should pack them.
There’s only so much you can do. If you’ve followed all of the above steps, you’ll greatly decrease your chances of something going wrong. Some things, such as the handling of your checked bags and flights departing on time, are out of your control. As long as you take care of what you can control, there’s no reason to stress out about other things.
Does anyone out there have any other tips to share? What about some holiday traveling nightmares? If so, tell us about them in the comments section below!