Let’s face it, travel during the holidays can make you want to yank your hair out. I would be lying if I said I’ve never felt that way. But, over the years I’ve accumulated a few tips and tricks that have made a significant change in how stressful I find holiday travel. Here they are in all of their shining, keep-your-fingers-crossed-for-an-upgrade-and-an-aisle-seat, glory!
- Imagine skipping the majority of airport security, keeping your shoes and belt on, and leaving your laptop in your bag. These are a few of the perks of TSA PreCheck and Global Entry. If you fly more than once a year the $100 Global Entry fee ($85 for TSA PreCheck) is totally worth the time, energy and sanity you’ll save.
- Make sure you’re organized. It makes security a lot less of a hassle. I suggest putting your change, keys, belt, jewelry, and phone in your carry-on before getting in line. If you’ve got kids, look to see if there is a family lane available as well. For the latest and most up-to-date security information always check the TSA Travel Checklist before leaving for the airport.
- Last but not least, if traveling internationally, keep a paper copy of your passport on you just in case you lose your actual passport. Being stranded without identification in a foreign country is about as scary (and stressful) as it gets. This will help if you need to get into a US embassy when abroad.
- This goes without saying, but make sure you put a travel notice on your credit/debt cards and make sure you have a bit of cash in the local currency. If you give your bank a few weeks notice, you can get some of the best exchange rates. Cash is king in the event that you run into an issue with your plastic.
- Better yet, apply for an American Express charge card that comes with a host of travel perks and no foreign transaction fees. If you’re a fan of earning miles this is the card for you. If you prefer to earn points towards hotel stays, here’s the one with your name on it. These aren’t affiliate links, I’m just a big fan of the American Express experience.
- Pack for your trip a few days beforehand and assess whether or not you need it all the day of. Odds are, you can probably cut a few items you originally packed. I make it a rule to remove at least three things I had originally packed before departing.
- Leave a bit of space in your bag as you’ll likely pick something or many things while on vacation as well. Nothing is more stressful than paying up to $200 at the gate because the tchotchkes you picked up put your luggage overweight.
- If possible, fit everything in your carry on. Do you really need to bring 4 pairs of shoes for a 3 day trip?! No. You don’t have to worry about lost or delayed luggage if you don’t check anything. Land and you’re off to the races.
Start Your Vacation Early
- If you use Uber, Lyft or another ride-sharing service frequently, look up you arrival airport to see if they have a special area for ride-sharing services to pick up and drop off as many don’t allow them to operate in the same locations that traditional taxis can. Navigating through an unfamiliar airport can be a huge stressor and waste of time.
- Call or email your hotel ahead of time to see if they offer a free shuttle to and from the airport. That information can save you a lot of anxiety. Even if they charge for the service, it may be well worth it and surprisingly similar to the price of taking a taxi.
Bonus: Tip Your Flight Attendants
- Flight attendants have the ability to provide perks for travelers in the same way that hotel front desk agents do. Unfortunately, they tend to end up on the receiving end of many traveler’s frustrations. A little appreciation goes a long way. When you’re sitting in coach on a long flight, a $10 or $20 tip may help ensure that you get some special attention. If you play your cards right, you might be able to squeeze out a cocktail or two.
So there you have it. A few key things to remember if you’re looking to make your holiday travel as stress-free as possible. If you’re a frequent traveler and have any go-to tips or tricks, I would love to hear from you. Shoot me an email at John@StockiExchange.com or leave a comment below.