Holiday travel can be stressful.Weather, excess luggage, what can go wrong often will. Without warning you’re stranded for a few hours or a few days or running at breakneck speed through London Heathrow to make the last flight to JFK. Here are five of my best tips for limiting stress during holiday travel, and travel all year long.
- Limit connections when purchasing your tickets. Be it connections via plane, train or buses, the more times you make the change, the more likely you are to miss a connection because of a delay, be it caused by inclement, excess traffic or a line for take off in Atlanta International.
- Allow plenty of time for the connections you do have. For connections in large airports or train stations allow extra time. Two hours is a minimum for international connections, but for JFK (New York), CDG (Paris), or London Heathrow, I would recommend three or even four hours– delays for take-off, delays for landing, the lines at passport control and customs and the massive size of the airports themselves make tight connections a huge risk.
- Carry-on necessary meds, a small toiletries kit, a change of clothes (something comfortable), your electronics chargers and plenty of entertainment (I prefer my kindle). That way if you get stranded, you won’t stranded and uncomfortable. This also means if the airline loses your luggage (the only time this has ever happened to me was at Christmas) that you’ll have a change of clothes to wear while you wash what you wore on the plane, and fully charged phone/ kindle/ laptop to play with..
- Travel early or late. Try to do your traveling as far ahead and behind the actual holiday as possible. Avoid traveling the weekend and day before Christmas Eve at all cost and the day after Christmas or New Year’s. These are heavy traffic days where if you miss a connection, you’re likely to be on standby indefinitely, not to mention the crazy lines.
- Be extra-courteous. Even better, be extra-nice. No matter what happens. We’re all stressed, and everyone (flight attendants, too) hates delays and cancellations. Getting nasty almost never works, and afterwards, good people are likely to feel guilty about making someone’s already crappy day worse. Kill ’em with kindness, civility, common courtesy or good-natured humor. Skip heavy sarcasm and snark, it can push people on the edge the rest of the way off.