Nov. 24, 2011 -- When it comes to holiday travel, it can get rough out there. From delays and canceled flights to long security lines, you never know what the airports (and flights) have in store. To help you get through the mad-dash holiday season, FareCompare.com has come up with tips for any travel scenario to help you get through the holiday travel season.
Let's be honest: traveling alone is the easiest way to fly. You only have to concern yourself with getting from point A to point B. That said, here are some tips for surviving the flight alone:
• Get a nice, durable pair of noise-canceling headphones to drown out the engine noise and any crabby kids sitting around you. The headphones are perfect if you want to just put your head down, listen to some music and be alone during your flight.
• Pack one carry-on bag with all your belongings. This will help avoid expensive baggage fees, and you can head straight from the arrival gate to the airport exit. While others linger at the luggage carousels, you will be on your way.
• Have a tablet? Download a book before your flight so you will have something to read. Audio books are also an amazing distraction.
Traveling With Kids
Anyone who has traveled with kids will probably tell you: After a vacation with kids, you need a vacation from kids. True, it can be stressful, but if you plan accordingly and take the young ones into account, it may not be so bad.
• Pack a carry-on bag to keep the kids occupied. Better yet, let the kids help you pack it so they have some input. (Think books, travel games, portable DVD player, iPod/iPad to keep the little minds busy and entertained.) First-time fliers often appreciate stuffed animals as well.
• In that same bag, pack some snacks. Don't worry about drinks; you will get those on the plane. Bring along snacks your kids normally eat and maybe even a special treat if they behave the entire trip. Save a few snacks for later as opposed to letting them eat everything while waiting in the terminal.
• Dress them for the arriving weather. The last thing you want to do is open luggage in an airport and dress a small child. Layers work best and smaller coats and sweaters can fold up and be placed in their carry-ons.
• Explain the TSA security measures to your kids. While kids under 12 don't have to take off their shoes, the metal detectors and the X-ray machines might scare them.
Traveling as a Couple
Two people, two seats, two tickets. Two of everything, except when it comes to baggage. Pack light, pack smart and share whatever you can. One less bag means less stress and faster trips through the airport.
• Going for a short stay? Pack one bag between the two of you and carry it on. This will save time, money and spares you the hassle of dragging multiple bags around an already crowded airport.
• While one person can use the luggage as a carry-on, the other can bring a backpack or separate bag as a second carry-on. Pack smart, and you will be able to travel with everything you need.
• No need to double up on everything. Remember, you are essentially traveling as one person, so don't bring more than the two of you will need to survive a flight.
Tips for Every Traveler
When it comes to traveling -- on your own, with kids, with a loved one -- make sure everyone follows these steps. Doing so will ensure safer and a less-stressful trip for all.
• Print out your tickets and itineraries at home. Most airlines allow you to check in 24 hours before your flight. Keep these on your person and have them available at all times (i.e., no need to dig through bags when you can keep them in your pockets).
• Have a smartphone? Download your carrier's mobile app and follow your flight's status. Also, check out other flight-tracking apps and add your carrier's customer service phone number to your phone, just in case.
• Check the weather at the departing and arriving airport. Even one delayed flight can set off a domino effect.
• Sign up for text alerts to your phone. These are great for letting you know departing and arriving times, as well as gate numbers and when your checked luggage (if you checked any) will be located.
• Leave early. Factor in extra time for parking, for a shuttle from the lot to the terminal, and time to get through security.
• Expect lines at security checkpoints. Wear slip-on shoes, have everything out of your pockets and take your computer out of your carry-on bag. Be prepared before you get to the front of the line. If possible, avoid wearing belts, watches and other accessories you will have to take off. Keep your keys in your carry-on. You won't need those until you land back home.
• Look into Executive Platinum clubs. If you do hit a delay, these are great places to get away from the crowds and relax. At certain airports, they offer daily (or hourly) memberships. Take advantage of them. It's worth it.