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Wednesday, December 21, 2022

Last-Minute Holiday Travel Tips

If you're traveling this week, I wish you good luck. I'm sticking close to home until after the new year, but we've traveled quite a bit during this time and it can be pretty hectic and stressful. Let's make the most of your time getting through the airport, packing, or setting out on a road trip with some of these tips. 

Let's make the most of your time getting through the airport, packing, or setting out on a road trip with some of these tips.

Pack light

I know it's winter and you need some sweaters and a jacket and maybe boots, but that doesn't mean you have to take a giant bag. If you've been proactive, you've already either brought small gifts that fit in your carry-on/personal item or shipped them ahead. That means you can strategically pack the rest of your carry-on. Pack two pair of pants and a sweater you can wear with everything, so you can layer. If it's going to be really cold, base layers are not bulky and they insulate you really well. The new long johns are very thin and very warm.. 

Take along 3 or 4 long sleeve shirts and wear your coat on the plane. You can always use it as a blanket, pillow, or stuff it under the seat. Wear your boots on the plane as well and pack a pair of more casual shoes. 

Get there early

If the airport is in your future, make sure you leave plenty of time to get there before your flight. I usually say 1 1/2-2 hours for domestic flights, but with holiday traffic and everything else, 3 hours is a better idea for this time of year. Winter weather, everyone traveling, and long security lines can all conspire against you right now. Packing light will also help you save time here, because you won't also have to stand in line to check your bag.

Go left

If you're not lucky enough to have PreCheck or Global Entry, then you're going to have to suck it up and wait in the interminable lines. Download the TSA app, which will tell you what kind of wait you'll be looking at, but also, make sure you're prepared for everything you need to do. Keep your laptop/electronics and bag of liquids easy to take out of your carry-on, empty your pockets into an outside pocket of your bag, or put them into a zip-top bag to toss in a bin. 

Once you get near the front and everyone is split into other lines for conveyors and x-ray machines, head left if you can, because almost everyone either goes straight or right, meaning the left lines are usually quicker and have fewer families and elderly slowing things up.

Prep your car

If you're road tripping to your destination, you have more flexibility with packing, but you'll need to do a little prepping otherwise. Hopefully, you've gotten maintenance done on your car by now, and checked all the tire pressure and your spare. On top of that, you'll want to make sure you have your roadside assistance number on-hand, an emergency roadside kit, and a back-up battery for your phone. Carry chains if you're going through snowy terrain and if you have one of those plug-in jumper batteries, charge it up before you leave.

Travel during the low times

Believe it or not, there are better times to travel during the holidays. Sure, it seems like they're all bad and annoying, but there are actually optimum times. 

The best time to travel during the holiday season, AAA reported, is before 2 p.m. and after 8 p.m. on Dec. 23; before 11 a.m. and after 7 p.m. on Dec. 24; before noon and after 7 p.m. on Dec. 26; before 2 p.m. and after 8 p.m. Dec. 27-30; and before 3 p.m. and after 8 p.m. on Jan. 2. The absolute best times to travel are on Christmas Day, New Year's Eve, and New Year's Day.

The worst time to travel during the holiday season is between 4 and 7 p.m. on Dec. 23; between noon and 6 p.m. on Dec. 24; between 2 and 6 p.m. on Dec. 26; between 3 and 7 p.m. Dec. 27-30; and between 4 and 7 p.m. on Jan. 2, according to the report.

Keep your chill

Above all, remember that everyone is stressed and trying to get through this holiday season. Things will probably go wrong, but freaking out or being a jerk about it isn't going to help anyone. People have to work during this harried time and are getting abuse from all sides. Try not to add to it. The holidays can be hard for a lot of people, too, so give people some slack. Try to be extra kind. It costs you nothing, and makes you feel better about things, too.

I hope you all have a great holiday, or weekend if you don't celebrate, or at least a gentle one, if that's what you need. Share a favorite holiday memory with us all.

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