The ultimate collection of tips to make travel joyful during the pandemic holiday season (or any time)
The winter holiday season starts this weekend. Christmas and New Year are holidays that most Americans celebrate with friends and family. They are also the holidays when many business travelers are absent from airports and most passengers are flying for their single trip of the season. We are entering the second pandemic holiday season for travelers.
Here is a collection of tips that will help whenever you travel from late November through early January.
1. Bring patience
I know, I know, everyone says this. But, it is perhaps the most important attitude to pack. Without this ingredient, the trip will be far more difficult. It is a mandatory start to make travel joyful.
2. Fully charge all devices at home before leaving for the airport and don’t forget chargers and adapters
Starting travels with fully charged devices is an easy-to-accomplish task. Do it.
3. Get to the airport early
Again, this is a regular admonishment. However, getting to the airport early is never bad and helps make travel joyful and less stressful. Getting there late can be a disaster, especially during the pandemic, when many are expecting empty airports. Don’t think that way.
4. Take public transportation when possible or reserve parking or have a gullible friend take you to the airport
Avoid searching for parking or fighting traffic. Good public transportation when available can be a time- and stress-saver. Otherwise, reserve parking if possible or get a lift from a friend. Of course, a friend in LA says, “Friends don’t ask friends to pick them up at LAX.”
5. Pack gifts in checked luggage and pack wrapping paper separately; better yet, ship gifts ahead using UPS, FedEx, or the Post Office.
I’ve never seen so many happy faces as when I show up with a power strip at a crowded airport when all outlets are taken. Besides getting to charge my iPhone, I make four other passengers waiting for power very happy. An extension cord makes it better yet. Finally, on my way home after the holidays, I’ve been known to leave it as a gift to the multitudes. It is a good way to make travel joyful for others.
When all else fails, bring your own backup power, especially when work may be involved. They are easy to find and the biggest problem is remembering to charge them along with your smartphone, iPad, or computer prior to the trip. I have forgotten them more than once.
7. Pack a lunch and snacks
The airports are struggling with staffing eateries and coffee shops. When you (or your children) want to eat, no one wants to wait in line for 20 minutes or an hour.
Having your own food, especially during post-pandemic airline travel, will solve almost all dining problems. Plus, having fewer people to serve will help keep crowds smaller and lines shorter.
8. Bring a collapsible (or empty) water bottle and fill it after going through security.
Really, any plastic water bottle will do. Just bring it past security empty. Then fill it up afterward. It will keep you hydrated and for those with families, it will keep kids happy.
9. Ask which TSA security line at the airport is normally the shortest. And be patient.
Make sure to ask where the least-crowded security line is located if faced with a long security line. A five-minute walk can save 15 minutes of waiting time.
At the same time, remember that TSA has the same staffing problems that plague the entire aviation world.
10. Pack a folded bag for gifts you receive and leftovers you want to take home.
11. Don’t forget headphones (noise-canceling is best), or bring earplugs.
For me, a noise-canceling headset is a must; otherwise, use what you have. At least bring earplugs.
12. Carry on medicines and hand sanitizer — This should always be a basic rule.
13. Remember jams, jellies, and many pies are considered liquids and subject to the 3 oz. rules.
14. Travel early in the day
Delays are a result of a domino effect: The later in the day the flight, the better chance a traveler has to face delays. We have seen this during the summer and during Thanksgiving. It will be similar during the second pandemic holiday season.
15. Have paper copies of travel boarding passes, documents, flight confirmations, and important phone numbers at your destination.
17. Make sure your baggage is identified with your name, home address, phone number, email address, and destination.
18. Bring a 10-foot-long charging wire for your phone
Room outlets at hotels, airports, and your friend’s house are unpredictable. You will smile every time you pull out your 10-foot-charging wire to get power where you need it.
19. Spread the holiday joy during the second pandemic holiday season
Help others with luggage, carry-ons, and kids, when you can (with social distancing). Smile through your mask. Say “Thank you.” Enjoy the magic of flying.
20. Join us or donate to help us keep helping you during your travels and providing cybersecurity away from home.
Join Travelers United Plus and enjoy the peace of knowing your WiFi connections are secure when you travel anywhere or work from home. Only $49 for a year. Enjoy the best cybersecurity package offered by any advocacy group — WiFi security, document security, and password management. You will love it.
Charlie Leocha is the President of Travelers United. He has been working in Washington, DC, for the past 14 years with Congress, the Department of Transportation, and industry stakeholders on travel issues. He was the first consumer representative to the Advisory Committee for Aviation Consumer Protections appointed by the Secretary of Transportation from 2012 through 2018.