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Holiday Travel Tips

by Noemi Arellano-Summer

photography courtesy of Amanda Willis

Traveling for the holidays can be stressful, especially when nothing seems to go right. You end up packing frantically at the very last minute, hoping to make your flight or that your driver doesn’t mind waiting an extra 20 minutes before getting on the road. However, there are some easy steps you can take to avoid these unwanted situations.

Pack the night before

I know everyone thinks they’ve already got this covered, but I don’t just mean pack as in 90 percent of your stuff is in a suitcase, and your backpack is half-full. I mean pack all of it, as if you’re about to head out the door in five seconds. Whether you’re leaving at 6 in the morning or noon, it never hurts to be prepared. You’ll be happy when you don’t have to do anything before leaving for the airport, or your ride will be happy when you quickly bring your packed bag out to the car without calls of needing five more minutes to find that one thing you swore you just had in your hand but now, inexplicably, don’t.

Leave early. If you think you’re already early, add another 20 minutes onto that.

Traffic is the worst, especially around Thanksgiving and Christmas. Everyone’s going somewhere, and no one wants to be late. If you’re heading to the airport, you need to, first, get there, then check that you’re at the right terminal, make sure you have a boarding pass, maybe check a bag, get through security and get to your gate, all before your flight takes off. Rescheduling is not fun, and neither is getting moved to a flight that’s leaving the next morning. So, you don’t want to get caught in a traffic jam or miss your flight, right? Leave earlier than you need to. I promise, everything takes longer than you think it will. No, really. Everything.

Dress for airport security

Dress comfortably, in other words. You’re going to be sitting in the same seat for a while, so make sure you’re wearing traveling clothes. Pack a comfy sweater to use as a blanket, at least. It also definitely helps if you wear shoes that are easy to remove for airport security. Clothes can get the grime of traveling on them. Not worrying about your clothes gives you the awareness to worry about your luggage instead!

Bring your own food

If you can help it, why spend extra money on a sandwich at the airport when you can make one on campus and take it with you? Pro tip: get a custom-made sandwich from the dining hall and stick it in a Tupperware. Voila! Instant lunch/breakfast/3 a.m. snack. Just in case, you have something to munch on. In this respect, you’re self-sufficient.

Have everything you think you’ll want or need within easy reach

Having to either stop the car to grab something from the back, ask someone else to root through your bag, or stand up from your airplane seat to pull something from the overhead bins, is an extra step you don’t need. Take everything you’ll need (boarding passes, for example) and anything you’ll want, (snacks, books, music, laptop) and put it all within easy reach. Again, I know this seems obvious, but it only takes one experience of realizing the object you want is at the back of the car or in your checked bag to change your tune.

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