Get Ready for Holiday Travel

Some tips to get you there

Holiday Travel

The travel industry is gearing up for the holidays and for good reason. This year marks the first return in over two years to pre-pandemic travel numbers as families hit the road and the friendly skies to celebrate with extended family.

The American Automobile Association (AAA) predicts that 53 million people will travel in the next two months, either by car or plane. Both bring their own set of challenges that you should be aware of ahead of time. Experts suggest more preparation than you are probably accustomed to in order to head off problems and frustrations as you navigate roads and airport terminals.

Holiday Travel

  1. If you are traveling by car, be aware that gas prices are up, especially outside of Texas, where we enjoy some of the lowest fuel charges in the nation. For instance, if you’re traveling to California, expect to pay $6.59 for a gallon of gas. No, that’s not a typo. Given these charges, check the cost for airfare to the same location and ask yourself if you are really saving money by driving. You may discover that there’s not enough difference in price to justify the long road trip and overnight accommodations as you break from your trek.
  2. If you are traveling by air, it is advised that you familiarize yourself with check-in procedures before arriving to the airport. Each airport operates somewhat independently, and always with a different layout, so one may have kiosks where another requires you to stand in long lines at a check-in desk. One may allow you to check bags at a kiosk and drop them in a baggage area, where another – you guessed it – makes you stand in long lines to do the same.
  3. The same applies to the TSA security process. I’ve been in airports where I was told to put my entire suitcase in a bin and remove nothing from it, including my laptop. Others tell me the opposite. Some ask not to put shoes and bags into bins at all. If not knowing the expectations makes you flustered and gives you stress, go online ahead of time and familiarize yourself with the procedures at your airport.
  4. Be aware that George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) is undergoing massive maintenance and expansion, so construction is everywhere. This is significantly affecting passenger drop-off and pick-up times, as long lines are known to form, especially at Terminal C, a popular United terminal. Be sure to leave extra time to pick up and drop off your guests, and don’t expect the same route as in the past. Detours abound, so follow the signs.
  5. If you are flying with food to contribute to the Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner, it’s fine, but be sure none of it is liquid or spillable. No to gravy and cranberry sauce but yes to turkey and stuffing. Who knew?
  6. Check your impatience and your temper at the door. TSA has reported 5,100 incidents of unruly passenger behavior in the last year, and they are hitting back hard with hefty fines and the threat of a lifetime ban from flying. There is nothing worth getting up into a flight attendant’s face, yelling at a gate attendant, or picking a fight with another passenger. Take a deep breath and accept the fact that you are on the airline’s timeline, not your own.

    Rules

  7. You also must follow the airline’s rules. No matter how much you might hate wearing a mask, you have no choice in the matter. It is federally mandated in all airports and on every flight, and it is strictly enforced. Bring more than one or pick some up at the airport. When eating or taking a sip of water, you are instructed to lower your mask for each sip or bite, then immediately replace it. And speaking of eating, build in some extra time at the airport to get your meal because you won’t be fed on the plane. Your drink choices will be severely limited, as well.

Preparation is key, followed by patience once your trek begins. Remember that travel is just a means to an end, and if you do it right, the prize is precious time with your loved ones.

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Rebecca Deurlein

REBECCA DEURLEIN IS A FREELANCE WRITER AND THE AUTHOR OF TEENAGERS 101: WHAT A TOP TEACHER WISHES YOU KNEW ABOUT HELPING YOUR KID SUCCEED (HARPER COLLINS). REBECCA WRITES FOR LOCAL AND NATIONAL MAGAZINES AND NEWSPAPERS AND LOVES EVERY MINUTE OF LIVING IN SUGAR LAND, TX. FIND HER ON AMAZON, BARNES & NOBLE, HUFFINGTON POST, OR THROUGH HER OWN BLOG A TEACHER’S GUIDE TO UNDERSTANDING TEENAGERS.