Long layovers, crowded airports, cold weather, and harried travelers are just some of the highlights of traveling over Christmas week. If you happen to be one of the millions of passengers traveling over Christmas, you can expect to spend a fair amount of time at the airport. Packing some reading materials, games and snacks can help to kill some time when you’re waiting at the boarding gate or standing in line at the baggage claim, but there are several other things you can do to make your Christmas travel experience less stressful.
Use these tips to survive the airports over Christmas week:
1. Consider the weather when booking connecting flights. Choose a route that connects in a warmer destination so that you don’t have to deal with delays because of inclement weather. This travel strategy can keep you right on track with your Christmas week travel itinerary. If you do end up staying in a new city for a few hours, you can spend some time exploring local attractions or shopping without worrying about the weather.
2. Ship your gifts ahead of time. If some of the recipients on your Christmas gift list didn’t get their gift shipped directly from the retailer, ship the gifts yourself so that you don’t have to carry – and pay for – extra bags. Getting through security with wrapped gifts can be a chore, and security might even end up unwrapping certain gifts after they go through the scanner. Avoid the hassle altogether by shipping gifts via UPS or FedEx before Christmas week.
3. Make parking reservations in advance. Expect mega crowds over Christmas week and a severe shortage of airport parking spots. If you’re not taking advantage of valet parking, book your parking spot ahead of time online or over the phone. Keep an eye out for online coupons and specials when you’re parking at the airport for several days over Christmas week.
4. Print out a list of airport amenities. Find your airport online and print out a list of amenities, restaurants and shops in your terminal. This can help you make the most of your time at the airport. Head to the spa for a back massage, enjoy some great food at a gourmet restaurant, shop for souvenirs and last-minute Christmas gifts, connect to a Wi-Fi hotspot or just relax in the airport lounge until your departure.
5. Bring your own entertainment. From portable DVD players to miniature board games, keep yourself and your traveling party busy for a few hours with your own entertainment. Paying for magazines, books, Wi-Fi connections and other items at the airport can overextend your travel budget. Save some money and pack your carry on with your own books, puzzles or games so that you can tune out the crowds over Christmas week and make the most of your time at the airport.