Here is the ultimate collection of tips to make travel joyful during the pandemic holiday season (or any time)
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.
6. Bring a power strip and an extension cord —
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.
7. Travel with an extra battery for backup power —
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 more than once.
8. Bring a collapsible water bottle and fill it after going through security.
9. Ask which TSA security line at the airport is normally the shortest —
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.
10. Pack a folded bag for gifts you receive — Believe me, it works.
11. Bring your own snacks —
Anyone traveling any time knows that finding healthy food is a hassle. During these pandemic days, finding any food at airports is difficult and sometimes impossible. Plus, there are long lines even for unhealthy food. Bring your own.
12. 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.
13. Carry on medicines and hand sanitizer — This should always be a basic rule.
14. Remember jams and jellies are considered liquids and subject to the 3 oz. rules.
15. 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.
16. Have paper copies of travel boarding passes, documents, flight confirmations, and important phone numbers at your destination.
17. Bring an old-fashioned book to read — Go low-tech and bring along a pen and some paper as well.
18. Make sure your baggage is identified with your name, home address, phone number, email address, and destination.
19. Bring a 10-foot-long charger for your phone —
Room outlets at hotels, airports, and your friend’s house are unpredictable. You will smile every time you pull out your extension cord to get power where you need it.
20. Spread the holiday joy —
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.
Plus one more:
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Charlie Leocha is the President of Travelers United. He has been working in Washington, DC, for the past 11 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.