Americans took more than 11 million flights in November and December 2014, according to the U.S. Office of Travel & Tourism Industries, and many experts believe that number is on track to grow this year. If you’re worried about long lines and potential flight delays, these five tips should help make your experience as stress-free as possible.
1. Pack wisely. Even the most seasoned travelers have an opportunity to optimize their packing process. For example, shipping gifts ahead of time will save precious bag space and help you avoid fees. If you do pack gifts, keep them unwrapped as the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) may need to access them during screening. Developing two packing lists – one for your carry-on luggage (be sure electronics and liquids are easily accessible) and one for your checked bag – may minimize the need for last-minute reshuffling at the airport. Finally, a small padlock may help prevent theft, but make sure it’s TSA-approved or it may not make it to your destination in one piece.
2. Skip the line. Many people know printing their boarding pass or downloading a digital copy to their phone may help expedite flight check-in. However, fewer people take advantage of opportunities to reduce time spent at security and customs checkpoints. If you’re traveling domestically, sign up for TSA PreCheck at www.tsa.gov for expedited security screening. If you’re traveling internationally, sign up for Global Entry at www.cbp.gov for expedited U.S. customs and border protections clearance. In either case, sign up as soon as possible, as the application process can take several weeks.
3. Stay connected. As the number of travelers with smartphones continues to rise, mobile applications are becoming more popular as travel tools. Take a few minutes before your trip to research and download the apps most relevant to you. Also, remember that while convenient, mobile charging stations may threaten the security of your phone’s private data. Instead, consider purchasing a power bank to help ensure you have enough juice to wait out potential flight delays.
4. Stay healthy. Nothing ruins a trip like getting sick, so take preventive measures in the weeks before your trip – such as getting enough sleep, drinking plenty of water and exercising appropriately – to help boost your immune system. Consider a seasonal flu vaccine, as according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, flu activity peaks between December and February. Additionally, ask your doctor about safe sitting exercises that may reduce the risk of blood clots or other flight-related conditions.
5. Protect yourself. Finally, if you didn’t purchase travel insurance when you booked your flight, it may not be too late to do so. Insurance may usually be purchased up to 24 hours before your departure date and a variety of options are available. “Travelers are smarter than ever when it comes to finding great travel deals, but some are still forgetting to protect themselves financially with travel insurance,” said Jeff Rutledge, CEO, AIG Travel. “It’s important travelers prepare for unexpected events, especially during the holidays, such as trip cancellation, interruption, lost or stolen luggage, and emergency medical issues.” Many travel insurance products also offer comprehensive support services for travelers. For example, most offerings in the Travel Guard suite of products from AIG Travel feature concierge services, which are available as soon as a policy is purchased and may provide assistance for anything from event ticketing to locating a gift wrapping service.
For more travel tips and information about travel insurance options that might be right for you this holiday season or in the new year, visit www.travelguard.com.