If you are like me, you are sitting in disbelief that the holidays are upon us. This time of year brings not only the excitement of the season but also stress centered around gift giving and travel. It never fails, whether you are the type of packer that starts three days ahead or someone like me that wakes up at 3 a.m. the morning of to pack, you will invariably forget something — so stop fighting that inevitability. Acceptance is a wonderful thing.
- Water: Picking up a bottle of water before you board the plane is a must. Not only do you need to stay hydrated while flying, but there have been many times I have sat on the tarmac with no one allowed to leave their seats and I have been grateful I had my big bottle of water with me.
- Meds: This is an absolute must and one that you should double-check before you zip up your suitcase. More than once I have thrown my meds in with my other stuff without thinking. Your meds, even over-the-counter ones, should be in your carry-on bag.
- Early arrival at the airport: During the holidays, please do not stick to the “hour before” rule for domestic and “two hours” for international. Get there early and camp out if you need to, but give yourself a lot of time. Parking is especially challenging during the holiday season, as is check-in.
- Uber: This brings me to my next tip. Do not wait till the morning of to try and get an Uber. Set your pickup time the day before. Also, I laugh to myself when I see people scrambling on my neighborhood app looking for rides the day before a 5 a.m. flight. Everyone is busy during the holiday season, so set up your airport transport well in advance. In addition, research Uber availability at your destination.
- Pets: I’m guilty as charged on this one. I have waited till the last minute to secure my pet sitter only to find out she will not be in town — and guess what. The boarders were full, and I was left frantically searching for a cat sitter. If we have a steady pet sitter, we take for granted he or she will always be there for us. But that isn’t always the case, so check with him or her as soon as you know your dates.
- Glasses: Unless this has happened to you, I bet you have not thought of it. I was on a long flight and was shifting things around in my seat and inadvertently sat on my glasses and broke them. I spent the entire flight wearing broken glasses to read my book. Lesson learned: Bring two pairs of glasses with you on the plane and one packed in your suitcase.
- Dogs on planes: I understand the need for therapy dogs and am a firm supporter of them, but here is my soapbox speech for today. I know of several people who have abused this just so they can keep their dogs with them. We all love our pets, and yes, the cargo hold is probably not the Hilton for them; but be mindful of your fellow passengers. There are people on planes who are fearful of dogs or allergic. If you do not medically need your dog with you, please make other arrangements for him. If you do need him with you, please, please keep him on your side.
- Toll pass: If your mode of transport for the holidays is driving, these next two tips are for you. Depending on the state in which you are driving through, you might need a toll pass because without one, you will be charged a toll and a hefty administrative fee for each toll you go through without a pass. Be aware: Depending on where you buy it, you might not be able to use it till the next day. For example, I bought one at a grocery store while traveling, and even though it was activated, I was told it would not be usable till 6 a.m. the following day. Consequently, it did me no good.
- Organization: Nowadays we have earbuds, a cell phone and charger, computer and charger, passports, credit cards, papers we have printed out and so on; and all of these can create frustration when trying to find them in our carry-on bag. I bought a travel organizer that holds my passport, earbuds, credit cards, money, license and tickets. I also bought a computer case that holds my USB cable and charger. So, my carry-on bag has those two things, a specific place for my phone and glasses, and, of course, space for a book, snacks and the like. Everything has its place, and those days of me scrambling for my wallet or charger that has sunk to that black hole at the bottom of my bag are gone.
- Comfort items: Some staples for your trip should be earplugs, travel blanket, sweater, sleep mask, neck rest and comfy socks if you want to take off your shoes.
I hope all these tips have been helpful and enable you to have a less stressful holiday trip. I welcome any readers who have any travel tips or hacks to email me with those, and I will do a follow-up article about them.
Wherever your plans take you this holiday season, may you travel safely and enjoy the journey!