Packing for Holiday Travel

by The Belle Voyage

packing for holiday travel

Packing for holiday travel can make or break your trip – but I’m not talking about clothes.

The holiday are always a special time: joyous, peaceful, and filled with plenty of love and laughter…all until you get to the airport.  Adios, holiday cheer.

As if blizzards, ice, flight delays, overbooked planes, and overpriced tickets weren’t enough, the holidays are when the crowds come out who are, shall we say, not so well-versed in the art of getting through security.  To call a spade a spade, the week of Christmas is basically amateur week at the airport.  (And I truly don’t mean for that to sound catty.)

To brace yourself for potential stressful situations that might arise in the course of getting to grandmother’s house, here’s a few tips I’ve gleaned from years of commuting across the country this time of year.

Packing for holiday travel…

…In case you get stranded somewhere overnight:

Even if it takes a Christmas miracle to do so, definitely plan to pack a carry on bag.

I KNOW:  winter stuff takes up a ton of space.

But if you need to get on an alternative flight for some reason, it’s not gonna happen if your bag is checked on your original flight.  Not even Christmas Eve tears will change this policy.  In addition, if you get stranded overnight, you’re going to be so grateful that you have all of your stuff with you.

If you decide that you MUST check your bag, be sure to bring a few key items with your in your handbag: extra underwear, a toothbrush, and any prescription medicine.

Lastly, if you get stuck overnight because of bad weather, remember that the airlines won’t bankroll your hotel stay, so it’s not worth your time to argue about it with them.  Instead, get some shut eye in a hotel or a quiet airport corner, and cross your fingers for better luck the next day.

…In case your flight is delayed:

Flight delays are always such a bummer.  But in my mind, all flight delays are not created equal.  If you have a direct flight, or if the delay is on the second leg of your trip that has a connection, delays are a pain, but don’t usually wreak havoc on your plans.

If this happens, you really just need an acceptable way to kill time, so don’t forget headphones and an awesome playlist, as well as some decent reads.

I’ve been listening to Jacey’s awesome playlist on repeat since this summer, and a few recent travel-worthy reads (i.e. nothing too intellectual) I’ve liked are here, here and here.

Finally, it is always a good idea to have a granola bar and some water with you, especially for those delays where you’re just sitting on the tarmac.

The other kind of flight delay is far worse – when the first leg of your trip with a connection is delayed, meaning that making your second flight is next to impossible.  This used to happen to me all the time, and almost always at O’hare.  If there’s still a few minutes – go for it…and RUN!  Make sure you’re traveling in shoes that you can run in!  It’s entirely possible that your second flight has also been delayed, so it’s worth trying.

If you’re SOL, the best and fastest way to get re-booked on another flight is to CALL your airline.  I REPEAT: do not stand in line at customer service….because that’s what everyone else is doing.  So make sure you have your airline’s customer service phone number saved in your contacts.

Fingers crossed that you won’t have to worry about ANY travel snafus.  Happy holidays!

image via pinterest

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