Holiday travel tips for the weary

Airport line/queues - ugh. (courtesy aleksi_aaltonen at flickr's Creative Commons)

Are you really going to schlep kids along and travel this week?  The agony….:)

OK, really, I do understand that these things are often out of our control. 

We might want to hole up at home and not go anywhere that involves “planes, trains and automobiles,” but that’s not always possible (and the holiday fun at the other end is usually worth it.) 

There are plenty of great tips out there for helping you through the holidays, from

But look, here are my basics:

  1. Just assume disaster of epic proportions, then you won’t be surprised by monster traffic jams, giant freak snowstorms that delay flights, etc.
  2. Also assume unknown dumb stuff – there were radio-related air traffic control delays at major hub DFW this morning.  You have no control over this other than to plan for mess and be pleasantly surprised if it turns out OK.
  3. Check latest TSA rules if flying. Duh. 
  4. For gosh sakes, try to avoid checking luggage. You’ve just got to. It’s one more thing that you can control. Luggage in the cargo hold, you can’t control.
  5. Watch the weather. My local paper shows a band of rain/snow/general ick running through part of the US northeast, Chicago and Denver over the next day or so. Can you say delays at JFK/La Guardia, O’Hare and Denver Int’l?
  6. Check in online if at all possible, and print your boarding passes at home. It’s really simple, and if you do this AND don’t check luggage, you can march straight over and start dealing with security. One less line to fiddle with.  A no-brainer.
  7. Mail or ship stuff there, and mail or ship stuff back. Even paying next-day or two-day delivery charges may be worth it, just to avoid dealing with getting items through the airport.
  8. Road trip?  Get maps.  I’m telling you, MapQuest and other online map services are great but they aren’t always accurate.  If you print out a point-to-point MapQuest route and get detoured, you’re suddenly in unknown territory. Just buy a danged map (your AAA membership may include free maps.) They always boot up, too.
  9. Road trip – don’t wait till the tank is low before gassing up. You never know when some colossal traffic jam will have you idling for hours and worrying about running out of gas.

Remember, the whole point of all this is to enjoy the company of the ones you love. 

Next year, consider something fun like Thanksgiving in Paris or someplace else to gather away from home for the holiday.

Why not?

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