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Ace the Holiday Travel Season
Breeze through security lines and airports with these road-tested holiday travel tips and advice from Eagle Creek expert Veronica.
There’s nothing quite like the sheer madness of holiday travel. Since hiding out ‘til January isn’t exactly an option (at least, not according to Mom and Dad!) most of us simply cross our fingers and hope that the travel odds are ever in our favor…or at least, that they are this year.
Is there anything we passengers can do—anything at all—to make holiday travel a little easier? Veronica in Eagle Creek’s marketing department (and frequent traveler) reminds us to “Remember that everyone else traveling during the holidays has the same intention as you, visiting friends and family. So why not treat fellow travelers and airline employees like they’re friends or family too? It will make waiting in long lines and any stressful situation a little more pleasant, and you could even make a new connection.”
A positive outlook can go a long way toward making your holiday travel experience a little more festive. For the other travel challenges submitted here by our readers, Veronica offers these road-tested solutions.
Q. Airport security lines are such a nightmare around the holidays! Is there any way to ease the pain and get through more quickly? – Zoe: Brooklyn, NY
A. Unfortunately, you can’t do anything about anyone else in the airport security line so make sure to do what you can for yourself. It all starts at home before your departure when planning and packing for your trip.
Know the rules and prepare accordingly. Before entering the security area you need to show your boarding pass and ID (driver license or passport), so store them in a convenient and safe spot and have them ready for the TSA Security person to check. You are only allowed one quart-size (3-1-1) bag of liquids, gels, and lotions, and each container needs to be 3 ounces or less. If you have more than this, you will need to toss the extra items out. Since the Tarmac 22 has outside pockets, your toiletries will be easy accessible.
Travel as compactly as possible and have everything at hand. Over the years I’ve perfected my “carry-on system”. The key is a small main bag with an organized under-seat companion bag. A carry-on bag like the Tarmac 22 is a great option: It has two outside pockets so you can access your quart-size (3-1-1) bag of toiletries quickly and easily. Once you remove your toiletries, you can stow any valuables you are required to remove, like your watch, belt, and anything else in your 3-1-1 pocket so you won’t forget them. If you are traveling with a laptop, bring a checkpoint friendly bag so you won’t need to remove your laptop when going through security.
In most cities you’ll need to remove your shoes, all of the items in your pockets and any metal items. The rules change from time-to-time so check out the TSA site to see what’s current. If you don’t want to deal with removing all of your personal items at security, here are a few easy tricks: Take your valuables off before you get to the airport and stow them in your travel bag. You won’t have to fuss with them during the security screening and this prevents any chance of forgetting them during the hustle of gathering your belongings at the end of the security checkpoint. Also, if it’s not necessary, don’t wear a belt. If it is necessary, the Eagle Creek All Terrain Money Belt has a plastic buckle and a hidden pocket where you can stow some extra cash. Wear shoes that are easy to slip on and off.
Get to the airport with plenty of time to spare. If the lines are long and the other people are not organized, at least you won’t be worried about missing your flight. I know spending time at the airport doesn’t sound like a lot of fun, but if you bring a good book or some reading material, the time will fly by (pun intended)!
Q. It seems my flights are always getting seriously delayed due to weather around the holidays. What can I pack to make a night at the airport less of a nightmare? – Amy: Reno, CA
A. Before leaving, think about the personal necessities to pack in your carry-on bag that will help you stay comfortable, cozy, refreshed, and entertained if you get stuck.
Food/Water: A few energy bars, mixed nuts, or dried fruit will be compact in your bag and curb your appetite, especially in case of super-late or early departures, when airport vendors likely won’t be open. Also, bring a collapsible water container—if the stores are closed you can fill-up at a drinking fountain. It’s amazing what a healthy snack and drink of water will do for you!
Personal Hygiene: It’s always good to pack a small hygiene kit in your carry-on. This would include the basics like a travel toothbrush and toothpaste, deodorant, personal wipes, and a change of underwear and socks. With these items you’ll be surprised at how refreshed you will feel in just a few minutes.
Entertainment: If you plan to check your main bag, make sure you have the chargers for your iPad, Kindle or other personal devices, in your carry-on. If you are traveling internationally, don’t forget to pack an electronic adapter and converter set. Also, a few compact travel games or deck of cards are always good for helping to keep you and your traveling companions in good spirits.
Q. Due to the rising costs of air travel, I’m opting to travel by bus and train this holiday season. Therefore I really want to pack light. What are your top space-saving tips? – Dana: Boston, MA
A. Start this process at home. If it’s likely that there will be laundry facilities where you’re going pack as little as possible, mix and match your outfits, and bring neutral colors. You’ll most-likely going to be visiting family; they’ll understand when you wear the same thing more than once. Only bring two pairs of shoes, one you wear on the plane and an extra for your destination. Eagle Creek Pack-It™ Cubes and Folders help compress your clothes; you’ll be surprised how much you can fit in a small-sized bag!
Do you have any burning holiday travel questions? Ask us in the comments below, and we’ll use them for our next edition!
Alexandra Baackes is a traveling writer, designer, and underwater videographer. She is currently in her second year of living as a full-time nomad.