This year, two seasons that usually create conflict for travelers – both seasoned veterans and holiday travelers – have come together in a perfect storm (no pun intended). And if you’re planning to board an airplane or take to the roads…you may have a bad time.
Thanksgiving week every year marks the beginning of the holiday travel season. And by all indications, this year will be as busy as any other year: AAA projects that 43 million Americans will take to the roads to visit friends and family this week alone, and the U.S. Department of Transportation predicts a 53% increase in all travel. To make matters worse, Winter Storm Boreas is creating a potential travel nightmare for everyone who plans to get on the road or in the air this week. As if the skies and highways weren’t busy enough, the winter storm can only add to the chaos.
It’s already been a hard week for travelers. On Sunday, airlines flying out of Dallas-Fort Worth Airport were forced to cancel hundreds of flights as a result of bad weather in the area. If this is an indication of what else is coming this week, we could all be in for a hard holiday travel season.
None the less, for many, holiday travel is a necessity. Be it traveling to see friends, getting together with family, or just to create a holiday memory for years to come, there’s always some reason or want to get out and see the world during the holidays. And for those who want to make holiday travel part of your plans, there are things you can do before you begin to try and make your travels easier. Here are my tips for surviving both the holiday travel season, as well as the winter travel woes:
1: Know before you go
This may seem like a tip from Travel 101, but it’s very easy to forget in the midst of packing, preparing, and double checking your list. If you’re making your holiday travel by road, make sure that you have your route planned and check for any deviations in the plan. If you’re traveling by air, make sure that you’ve checked your flight statuses, and be prepared if you end up with a trip delay, or a flight gets cancelled. If you’re worried about having your travel affected by the storms, contact your travel provider – in situations where winter weather threatens storms, airlines may allow travelers to change their plans without fees.
2: Be travel friendly
Remember that there’s going to be a lot of travelers on the road and in the air starting now, and not stopping until the end of the year. If you’re going by air, make sure that you know the rules when it comes to packing, baggage allowance, and fees that might arise from checking bags. Additionally, remember the rules for passing the TSA checkpoint – especially the rules about laptops out of bags, and the 3-1-1 liquid rule. For those going on the road, know that you’re not alone: 43 million Americans leaves a lot of cars remaining on the road. Plan for extra time on your travels, as road conditions and traffic patterns may change suddenly and unexpectedly.
3: Prepare for the worst case scenario
Nobody wants a delayed flight. Nobody wants to spend a night in a transit city. But yet, as we work through the holiday travel and winter storm seasons, the worst case scenario can take place. When planning and managing your trips, always be prepared for the potential of baggage loss, trip delay, and cancellations. This can be as simple as adding more time to your travels and packing an extra change of clothes in your bag, to purchasing a travel insurance plan.
How are you preparing for the winter storm season? What are your tips to make it through holiday travels in one piece? I’d love to hear your tips – leave me a comment below with your best ideas!