Holiday travel rush

Travel early, or late from How to Handle the Christmas Travel Rush Like a Champ Slideshow

How to Handle the Christmas Travel Rush Like a Champ Slideshow

Travel early, or late

Travel early, or late

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If you can travel very early or fairly late on Christmas Eve or any time on Christmas Day, it will be cheaper and much less crowded. You won’t have to trip over fellow travelers at the airport, which can crank up the stress levels. Talk your family into delaying the festivities until you get there by promising to make them a great meal or take them to a movie.

Take the train

Take the train

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Think about booking a train ticket to your destination to save money and to have some room to stretch out. You could pack a lunch and enjoy the scenery rushing by as you nosh.

Get far away

Get far away

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Does your family drive you nuts? Think about a holiday elopement of sorts. Find an opportunity airfare and go someplace tropical and lovely. Bliss out on the beach instead of getting into a political battle with Uncle Stu.

Checking it out

Checking it out

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Find out before you head to the airport if you can check bags for free. Southwest allows two free checked bags, for instance, but other airlines charge for checking. Be aware of weight restrictions and weigh your luggage before you get to the check-in counter and get a nasty surprise. You can buy a luggage scale for about $10.

Roll with it

Roll with it

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Get spinner luggage, which rolls along easily and doesn’t strain your arm. Because of its four-wheel design, spinner luggage tends to be stable. Put a small backpack or bag on top of it, flip the straps over the luggage handle and wheel it around with ease. 

Packing gifts

Packing gifts

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Make sure your Christmas presents are carefully packed in your checked baggage. Avoid anything breakable and don’t check anything  valuable. Gift cards, theater tickets or another experiential gift can be a great move and they take up very little space.

 

Getting to the airport

Getting to the airport

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Take Lyft or public transportation to the airport. You won’t have to deal with heavy traffic or parking and it’s often a cheaper option than a taxi.

Curb appeal

Curb appeal

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Try curbside check-in. You may have to stand in the cold for a few minutes, but the lines typically are shorter. Be sure to tip the skycap who helps you.

Think small

Think small

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A small carryon bag will make your life easier. How often have you truly needed everything you’ve packed for vacation? Take the bare essentials and you’ll be happier. You’ll have far less to lug around and you won’t be struggling for overhead bin space.

Get there faster

Get there faster

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Why don’t you have TSA PreCheck yet? Get it. You fill out a form online and make an appointment to have your fingerprints scanned and to make your payment. It costs $85 and it’s good for five years. It’s absolutely worth it if standing in long lines makes your blood pressure spike. After you are approved, you get a traveler ID number that you plug in when you book your flight. Use the PreCheck line at the airport and when you get to the X-ray area, don’t remove your shoes or belt. Laptops and small liquids can stay in your bag. Don’t wear lots of jewelry; you don’t want the hassle of removing it if the metal detector goes off. Breeze to your gate.

There's an app for that

There's an app for that

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Bring your laptop, cellphone or iPad and don’t forget the charging cord. If your flight is canceled or delayed and you need to book a new flight, don’t head to the counter with all the other frustrated passengers. Many airlines have rebooking features on their apps in case of “irregular” operations. You also can look for a new flight on the airline’s website, if need be. 

Legroom is yours

Legroom is yours

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If you got a less-than-ideal boarding number on Southwest, take a middle bulkhead seat up front that no one wants. Put your small bag and coat in the overhead bins right above you. You can squeeze them in with a little effort. You’ll be among the first passengers off the plane and you’ll have more legroom. Other airlines will give you a seat with more legroom for a small fee. If you are tall and you have a long flight ahead of you, this can help ensure you will arrive at your destination in a good mood.

 

Block that noise

Block that noise

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Invest in a good pair of noise-canceling headphones in case there’s a wailing baby or annoying adult near you on the plane. The headphones also will discourage chatty seatmates and you can relax listening to your favorite tunes.

 

Comfort food

Comfort food

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Take a snack. You aren’t a fan of that sad bag of peanuts, so bring a homemade sandwich and a bit of chocolate. Savor it.

Don't be a jerk

Don't be a jerk

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Be polite and patient. Practice deep breathing. Smile and say “thank you” to the flight attendants. It might earn you some extra snacks. At the very least, you’ll feel better if you don’t act like an impatient jackass. Trust us on this.