98.6 million people are expected to travel 50 miles or more this year for Christmas, and just like every year, air travel is going to get busy. If you're flying home for the holidays, use these 10 airport travel tips to make your trip home smoother.
Tips For Packing Your Bags
1. Don't wrap your gifts
Airport security may look through your bags at any time of year, and there is no tolerance for suspicion. To save your packages from getting torn apart, leave your gifts unwrapped for the flight and wrap them once you arrive at your destination.
Already bought special wrapping paper for the occasion? Save time (and your paper!) by cutting out enough for what you need, folding it, and laying it flat. Keep it from getting wrinkled by sticking it in the middle of a magazine or book.
2. Fly Southwest
If you're flying domestic in the US and are bringing a number of gifts home with you, fly Southwest - they are the only US airline to allow two free checked bags. If you are expecting to receive a gift(s) of larger size, only use a carry-on or one checked bag on the way there and fold up a duffle in your suitcase to use on the way back.
3. Place shoes in separate compartment
Place your shoes in a separate compartment so the odor doesn't mix with your clothes (or any new clothing/fabric items that you're giving to loved ones as gifts). I like to use the zip compartment in my suitcase to prevent this.
4. Place a dryer sheet in your suitcase, too
Fabric softener makes your clothes smell great in the dryer and will also keep your clothes smelling fresh in the suitcase, too. Place it on the top of the pile before you zip the suitcase up. Now there will be no fear of stinky smelling clothes for holiday parties!
5. Bring small breakables in your carry-on
Bringing home breakables? Keep them in your carry-on to avoid them from cracking when your checked luggage gets tossed around by airport staff. Speaking from experience: last year I put a fragile, hand-painted ornament from Florence in my checked bag only to take it out of the suitcase in shattered pieces when I arrived.
For the Airport
6. Print your boarding pass ahead of time
This will save you time and one extra step. You never know how long the lines will be at check-in.
7. Use travel apps
For smooth travel days, get some assistance from an app like TripIt for your itinerary.
8. Allow extra time for security as airports are busier
As mentioned at the beginning 98.6 million people are traveling for the holidays this year. That means busier airports and longer lines. Allowing extra time to get to the airport (especially if the weather is bad) and get through security will save you stress.
9. Bring snacks and a water bottle
Airport food and water can get expensive, and shelling out cash for a bag of processed, unhealthy food that doesn't even taste that good is the worst. Plan ahead by picking up your desired snacks at the grocery store the day before you leave to save money and eat what you like. As for avoiding paying $4 for a disposable water bottle? Pack an empty one in your carry-on and fill it up at a drinking fountain after you get through security.
10. Communicate with whoever is picking you up
If a friend or family member is picking you up, make sure you communicate with them on what time your flight gets in - and keep in touch if your flight gets delayed. This will save your driver from sitting in the cell phone lot for an extra hour or two while they wait for a delayed flight!