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Saturday, December 14, 2013

Less Stressful Holiday Travel

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It's that time again. The holidays are upon us and many of you will be traveling. Whether you'll be visiting friends and family or getting away from them with a relaxing getaway, the airport over Christmas is crazy, packed and chaotic. After packing, just making your way through security and getting on the plane is a challenge. Here are some ways to make it easier on you and everyone around you.

Keep your ID and boarding pass handy - Nobody likes waiting in line, but having to wait for someone to dig around in their bag for things they know they need is like when you're stuck behind the person in the checkout line that waits until the checker rings up everything and tells them the price before pulling out their checkbook. You know what I'm talking about. Don't be a check-writer. Have your ID or passport and boarding pass in your hand by the time you get to the TSA agent letting you into the lines for security screening. 

Bag your liquids - The 3-1-1 bag can be a pain and sometimes hard to pack, but don't make it harder by not packing it ahead of time like some people. It has been a rule for years, so when you either don't pack your gels and liquids in one before you get to the airport and are trying to hunt and gather for them in your carry-on while in line, it just makes people angry that they are behind you. You can buy quart-size zip-top bags at the grocery store and discount stores, like Target. Pull together all your toiletries and pack your 3-1-1 before you leave home. You'll save time, make friends and make sure that everything you want to take fits inside it. It's good to also place it near the top of your carry-on, so you can easily pull it out and throw it in a bin.

Wear some shoes you can slip on or off - Every airport you go to will make you take your shoes off to go through security. Why not make it painless for you and everyone behind you by wearing shoes that don't take forever to get off or on. Leave your combat boots at home and opt for more reasonable options, like loafers or sneakers. Heck, wear your stilettos if you must be glam, as they will take seconds to remove and put back on. Other travelers will thank you when you can grab all your stuff from the other side of the conveyor and get out of the way for them.

Keep your gifts unwrapped - As much as you'll want to wrap any gifts you're bringing before you leave home, resist the urge, because TSA doesn't like them. While they can x-ray your box, wrapped gifts are still suspicious, so you will have spent all that time and energy making it look pretty and then getting it into your bag, only to have an agent rip your paper to shreds to find out what you packed. Bring small gifts that can be packed without boxes and wrapping paper. You can always bring those staples with your and wrap them at your destination.

Make your laptop easily accessible - Yes, yes, you have all that other stuff you need to have in-hand and now I'm adding another. It's one more thing that will need to go in the bin, next to your shoes, 3-1-1, jacket and contents of your pockets. If you're bringing your laptop, netbook or iPad, make sure you can quickly slide it in and out of your carry-on. The faster you can get all your belongings into a bin, the sooner you can push them towards the conveyor belt and the X-Ray machine, making room for other travelers' belongings and causing everyone around you to be happy that you're helping to move the line along as best as possible, so they can get to their designated gate with minimal hurdles. 

Make sure you get to the airport with plenty of time to spare. You never know what can happen, so check wait times and give yourself at least 2 hours before you flight. If you get to the gate and find you've been bumped or your flight has been delayed, know your rights.

What are your tips for traveling a little more stress-free?

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