Holiday Packing + Travel Tips

Holiday Packing + Travel Tips

Here are my tips for packing and traveling this holiday season!

Everyone knows to arrive to the airport at LEAST one hour before a domestic flight – and more like three hours before an international flight. This couldn’t be more true during the busy holiday travel season. Remember – if it’s metal (ring, watch, change) take it off/out before going through security. If you don’t want to go through the new scanners at security, alert a TSA officer, but realize that you will likely be given a pat-down; remember, this is your choice.

Here are a few additional tips to help make (domestic) air travel a little easier this holiday season.

1 – When it comes to gifts, if at all possible: ship them. If you cannot, pack UNWRAPPED fragile gifts in your carry-on and pack the other UNWRAPPED gifts in your checked luggage. The TSA will unwrap them so save yourself the trouble, pack unwrapped and wrap at your destination. Try to anticipate if you’ll be bringing gifts back with you – if so I highly recommend packing an additional (foldable) bag in your checked luggage. You can also check boxes – just be sure to clearly label them with your contact information so they are easily identifiable. Fees may apply for all additional luggage, and any heavy luggage (check with your airline regarding their baggage requirements/fees).

2 – If you’re already checking a bag, I recommend packing your toiletries there. If you only have a carry-on, items that are liquid or liquid equivalent need to go into the quart-sized bag. Don’t pack all your toiletries in the quart bag, just the liquids. Medications should ALWAYS go in your carry-on; if you have a liquid medication measuring more than 3oz please alert a TSA member so they can screen it separately.

3 – To keep the security line moving faster remember these few tips:

Shoes, belts, jackets and any baggy sweatshirts must come off and go in a bin. No exceptions for adults. Children under 12 do not have to remove their shoes, but they will have to remove jackets/belts/etc. Since you know you’re going to have to remove your shoes, wear some that require socks, or have a spare pair handy.

  • Laptops must come out of your luggage, and their cases (unless the case is TSA approved) and ride in a bin ALONE. On the other hand, ipads, iphones, dvd players, gaming devices, tablets, cameras and other smaller electronics can stay in your bags.
  • No liquids over 3oz may pass through security. Pull your quart-sized bag of liquids out and place in a small bin or in the bin with your shoes/coat. If you don’t want to pay a lot for water in the terminal (and I don’t blame you at $5/small bottle), bring an empty reusable bottle and refill at a water fountain after security.
  • Finally, once you’ve shown your ID/ticket to the TSA officer at security, you can pack in your bag so you do not have anything in your hands during the screening. This may seem obvious, but can cause delays, especially if you’re being screened through the newer scanning machines which require you have NOTHING in your hands/pockets.

4 – I recommend packing neatly because, in the event your bag must be specially screened, TSA officers will be able to quickly locate any questionable items. You may use a TSA approved lock (find at any travel store) to secure your checked bags from other airport employees, while TSA agents are able access your bags for security purposes. Furthermore, make sure ALL luggage is tagged with your contact information at your destination (so your bag will be shipped/delivered to where you are going, not where you were). Whether you use the free paper tags that the airline provides, a luggage tag or these cool new decals– make sure people know how to reach you in case your bag goes missing (temporarily, of course)!

5 – When it comes to finding room in the overhead bin for your bag, please also be considerate of others. Place roller bags wheels-in to make room for as many bags as possible. I recommend holding onto bulky coats/hats until you see the flight attendants closing the bins – then alert them you’d like to place your items in the bins. This keeps them from getting moved around/crushed when initially placed in the bin. If you cannot find room, ask a flight attendant to help you – they are packing pros! Moving around other passengers’ luggage can cause tension and in some cases, fights – so leave it to the professionals. Place your largest item in the bin and place anything you’ll need during the flight at your feet.

Holiday travel can be especially stressful for us all. Airport employees are overworked, underpaid and never appreciated. Flight crews and TSA security are constantly complained to and yelled at. Let’s all try to remember to be polite, courteous and respectful not only to our fellow passengers, but also to the people working at the airport. A little kindness during this holiday season can go along way – and you might inspire Mr. Scrooge (sitting next to you) to do the same. Smile, and remember all you have to be thankful for. Your time traveling is minute compared to the joy you’ll have with your family/friends at your destination!

Lauren Mang
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