Traveling during the major North American holidays, namely Thanksgiving, the Christmas and New Years break and Spring break, the constant traveler has many different ways to make the best of their time without pulling the hair out of their heads in frustration. There are things that the government has now mandated that you must do, as well as the things that you would want to do so that your time at the airport, and in the air is spent wisely and safely. And, having a much easier time at the airport should be everyone’s goal, on top of saving money while doing so.
Expecting long delays at the airport well in advance, and with the rising costs of transporting heavy objects by air, bringing the holiday bird home with you is not really much of an option anymore. Get home first and then buy a turkey there, and you can save enough money to buy a second bird for the nearby shelter or church dinner with your savings. The more in advance that you can buy your airline ticket, the better chances you will have to get a good seat for a greatly discounted cost, leaving you more money to spend at your destination.
If you want to bring a large turkey home for Thanksgiving or Christmas, make sure that you are using an airline that allows for free baggage. Using an airline that charges for baggage, you will most likely be charged by weight and not size, meaning your bird would cost you more to bring home than all of your other baggage, combined. During spring break, students should make sure that their ski equipment is all well marked and packed, so that it all arrives at the same destination as they do. Check with your airliner well in advance of your departure date, preferably when booking your tickets, in order to find out if extra charges are made for skis, boards and other ski vacation gear.
Organization is the key to having a stress-free holiday travel experience. Before leaving for the airport, make sure that every piece of luggage is gone over one more time, to make sure that there are no items packed that are on the no-fly lists for airports and airliners. Having any restricted items will delay you significantly at the gates, and could even cause you to miss your flight.
Another thing to consider when traveling during the Thanksgiving holidays is the sheer volume of people doing the same thing. Thanksgiving is the busiest day of the year for air travel in Canada and the Continental United States, and the wait times can be extremely long, with many airlines overbooking each and every plane. When the airport is put to their limits, they slow down, and most flights become delayed due to either baggage transfer slowness or an overwhelmed air traffic control system, as the airport personnel are too busy to do all of the work required on such a busy day.
With more flights landing and taking off per hour than any other day of the year, on average, you may want to stay near your departure gate while waiting for your flight. With all of the people talking loudly, babies crying and children playing, it becomes hard to hear the plane boarding calls. Missing your boarding call could mean waiting hours for another flight, if a seat on another flight is even available.
While waiting for your flight’s boarding call, if you have children, you should try to keep them mentally stimulated, so that their energy levels do not go off of the charts. Make sure that you do not feed them foods that contain high levels of sugars, or other energy-elevating foods or drinks for at least 12 hours before the flight is scheduled for departure. Bring healthy snacks so that the expensive food courts can be avoided inside the airport.
During the Christmas holidays, it may well cost less to have your presents to others at your destination to be sent via bus, train or even by UPS or other paid messenger services. If you are the type of person who loves to give, and has to travel to get home for the holidays, and if the airline you are using charges for packages, then using an alternate method of getting your presents home for the holidays should be investigated before giving the airlines their extra baggage money. If your airliner does not charge for baggage, then, well, never mind…
Traveling during the holidays does not need to be stressful, as long as you know in advance that the airport personnel will be overworked and stressed out just as much as the travelers. Have your baggage tagged with personal identification tags, and have all of your travel documents ready, including your passport and your airline tickets. And never leave your personal belongings unattended in the airport, even for just a minute.