I’m traveling over the Thanksgiving holiday (NOT the Wednesday before, see below) and I figured I’d give you a few tips to make it through the mind-numbing process of waiting for someone to put their overpacked carry-on in sideways into the overhead bin.
How to Survive Holiday Travel
(without wanting to gouge your eyes out)
1. Avoid the busiest travel days
Unless you enjoy amateur hour, don’t travel the day before Thanksgiving or the day before Christmas Eve. People are trying to get the most bang for their buck with their time off and it shows. The Wednesday before Thanksgiving is the busiest day at airports all year. You’ll also often find that the Sunday after Thanksgiving and Christmas are incredibly busy too. I’m flying out super early on Thanksgiving to Vegas, to arrive just in time to squeeze these cheeks.
Then, I’m taking a red-eye back to Ft. Lauderdale on Saturday evening. Sure, it’s not ideal. But I get a better chance of an upgrade with less people clamoring for seats and I’ll be home to see my hubby for longer. (Yes, I plan trips on upgrade potential.) Plus, I avoid the larger crowds and it’s often cheaper. Win-win.
2. Carry-on only
You can do it. I promise. Even if you’re gone for an entire week, you can do it. I will write a post about how I packed a carry-on for 2 weeks for Thailand & Cambodia soon.
But in the mean time, grab some of my favorite eBags packing cubes and go at it. You’ll save time at baggage claim and more importantly, you’re forced to pack less and therefore have less to lug around.
3. Get to the airport early
My flight leaves at 6:45 am on Thanksgiving. We live about 15 minutes from Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood Airport. It’s REALLY tempting to take advantage of that. That said, my anxiety prevents me from ever living on the edge and leaving for the airport late. I will try to get to the airport no later than 5:30 am. I have Global Entry, which also includes TSA Pre-check so if security is a breeze and I have a lot of time to kill, I’ll grab a
Bloody Mary Starbucks.
4. Find your happy place
See above. Starbucks is a great bribe to get me to the airport early. Similarly, if you have a long layover, check out the airport prior to leaving and scope out any place that may interest you. Somehow my nose always heads to the local watering hole, but airports have tons of things to do now. San Francisco Airport even offers yoga!
5. Remain calm
Don’t be the asshole yelling at flight attendants when things go wrong. Do you honestly think that will get you anywhere? And more importantly, do you want to be that guy? We’re all in this together. No one actually likes flying. Okay except me. I sort of love flying. Keep your cool, find your zen place and chill the hell out. More than likely you aren’t the only one delayed or inconvenienced. A crazy thought, right?
Fun side story: On my way back from JFK to FLL this September, I got upgraded. (SCORE!) I watched a lady with her toddler board the plane very last and in a rush. She was incensed that there wasn’t enough room for her baggage left in First Class. She took it out on the flight attendant and inferred that we all did this to her on purpose. Yes, lady, I specifically chose this precise flight because I knew you’d be on it and I wanted to take up “your” overhead space. Her poor son was being quite fussy, as kids get on planes, and she was on the struggle bus trying to calm him down. I felt bad for her, but the thing was, she was such a wretched person to all of us, including the flight attendant, that none of us offered to help. When the FA asked if I wanted another glass of wine (The answer is always, duh) he asked if he could have some of mine too and then moved his eyes towards the nasty lady. Ha! I feel like we could have done shots together in the galley… But, I digress. Just don’t be a jerk!
6. Bring entertainment
I bring a fully charged: iPad, iPad keyboard, iPhone and IV of caffeine. My iPad has all the books I have from the Kindle app and if push comes to shove, I’ll buy a trashy magazine. Only if push comes to shove though… I’m also a big people watcher, you can see a lot of funny shit just by watching people. Okay. That sounded creepy.
7. Don’t get hangry
Hungry + Frustrated + Hungry + Large Crowds = Angry. Hangry. The hubster has called me a squirrel because I bring nuts on long trips. If it prevents Hangry Caroline from emerging, I think he should count his blessings. amiright? I usually toss a couple granola bars in for good measure. Airport food can be awful. But granola bars and beer can be glorious.
So those are some things I’ve learned from years of traveling. Probably most important though, just remember how lucky you are to be flying and enjoy the view. Even if it’s for a brief moment.
Have I missed anything? Are you traveling this holiday and what do you guys use to survive?