This year I’ll celebrate six years with a major airline carrier as a flight attendant. After five hectic holiday seasons watching travelers desperate to simplify their travel experience, here are a few tips that might alleviate some travel woes.
1. Buying tickets as soon as possible is key. The cheapest days to buy tickets are Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays. Check the actual airline websites before booking on major search engines, such as Travelocity or Orbitz.
2. Before you leave, remember to ship gifts ahead of time. Don’t gift wrap your presents if you bring them with you; airport security will just open them. If you have to bring gifts, carry them on with you.
3. When packing, maximize suitcase space by rolling your clothes and stacking the bundles on top of each other. Fold your bulky items lengthwise once, like sweaters or jeans, and lay them on top last.
4. When you pack for your trip, forget multiple pairs of designer boots or full-size bottles of shampoo. Liquid and shoes are the heaviest items you can pack. Wear one pair of boots that work with all your packed clothing and sport the coat as well to free up space.
5. Set your Ziploc quart-size bag up for success. Buy mini-travel bottles and make sure to follow the 3-ounce rule per bottle. Don’t forget hand sanitizer, earplugs, eyeshades and moisturizer for a more comfortable flight. Most drugstores have a travel-size toiletry section.
6. Don’t check valuables or medicine ever. If you can help it, don’t check anything. Always carry a set of spare clothes in your carry on. Luggage tends to get lost during the holiday season.
7. If space permits, throw a granola bar or a piece of fruit in your carry on. Some airlines charge for both beverages and snacks, and airport food can leave your wallet empty.
8. If you’re staying in California for the holidays, consider the train if you have yet to purchase a ticket. Amtrak allows you to purchase online in advance and print our your ticket at home or at the station.
9. Interested in road tripping it? Try and carpool with buddies and split the gas. Trunk space will save you the hassle of security at airports. Always make sure to double-check the maintenance of your car to ensure safe travels.
10. Most importantly, remember that at times it will feel like everyone is trying to visit Uncle John or Grandma Sue, and that’s because they are. Expect flights, trains and highways to be at maximum capacity. Allow extra travel time all around and make sure to exercise that holiday good will to your fellow neighbor.