[go] Surviving Holiday Travel
Since moving 800 miles from Wisconsin to Kansas last summer, I’ve become well acquainted with the joys of traveling during the holidays. Last year’s adventures included three two-way trips within six weeks, leaving the boyfriend and I exhausted and vowing never to fly again. Which, of course, we will (but we’re only taking one trip this time, thank God). Holiday travel is a just cause for a nervous breakdown, but there are ways to make it easier on yourself. Here are some of mine:
If you’re driving:
- Patience is a virtue. You will not reach your destination when you think you will. Leave lots of extra time for travel and be as flexible as possible.
- Some people get really cranky when they have to pee. I should know, as I am one of those people. Don’t be the jerk who refuses to make any pit stops. Accommodate people’s needs, and the trip will be a lot more pleasant for everyone. Plus, taking a break every hour or so will keep you more alert than trying to drive straight through.
- If the roads are bad, slow down or pull over. I know this sounds obvious, but when people are trying to get home for the holidays, apparently safety falls to the wayside. But it’s not worth getting in an accident or having your car break down in the middle of nowhere. Find a safe place to stay for the night if need be.
- GPS is your best friend, but if you’re a visual learner (which most people are), printed-out Google Maps directions are helpful too. And it can’t hurt to stow an old-fashioned road map in the glove compartment.
If you’re flying:
- Schedule your trip strategically. I almost always take the first flight of the day so there’s plenty of time to make alternate arrangements if something goes wrong. If I have a tight layover, I choose near the front of the plane so I can quickly get off that flight and onto the next one.
- Check in online and print your boarding passes at home. Not only does this let you breeze right to the security line, but it also puts you to the front of the queue if your flight is overbooked – passengers are boarded according to the order in which they checked in.
- Forget being polite. Yes, a little Christmas cheer can go a long way, but so can screaming “MOVE!” at the people who refuse to walk down the escalator. If I have a flight to catch, that’s pretty much Priority No. 1 in my brain at the moment. However, please don’t take your aggression out on the poor flight attendant; ninety-nine times out of 100, it’s not his/her fault.
- If you miss a flight or it’s canceled, call the airline’s customer service line while you’re in the airport. You may reach a human over the phone faster than in person.
- Pack a change of clothing in your carryon (or don’t check bags at all if you can help it) in case your checked bags get lost. I would have smelled a lot better last Christmas if I’d followed this bit of advice.
If you’re taking the train:
- Sit back, relax and enjoy the trip. My friend Amy is riding the rails to California next week, and even though it’ll take her two days to get there from the Newton Amtrak station, I’m a little jealous.
If you’re taking the bus:
- I’m sorry. Uh, don’t talk to crazies. That’s all I got.
Have any brilliant travel tips of your own? Leave them in the comments.