The holiday season is upon us, and that means many Americans will be traveling to visit their loved ones. This year, AAA predicts more than 100 million people will travel—90 percent will drive, 5.8 million Americans are expected to fly, and 3.4 million will be on trains, buses, or cruises.
With everyone taking to the roads and the skies, how can you avoid the crowds, and minimize the delays and the stress? Peter Greenberg shared his insider holiday travel tips on CBS This Morning.
Avoid the Worst Days to Drive
Three worst days to drive: yesterday and today. Coming home? That can be tricky. Since New Year’s Day is on a Friday this year, many Americans will return home on Sunday, January 3. That’s the day you DON’T want to drive. Instead, head home on January 1 when everyone else is recovering from the night before.
At the Airport
If you’re flying this year, your best bet is always to take an early morning flight, preferably the first flight out. But if you’re traveling through an airport with separate levels for departures and arrivals, don’t go to the departure level—it will be a zoo. Instead, go to the arrivals section—no one is arriving at 7am. Then take the escalator upstairs to check in. When you land, have your family or friends pick you up at the departure level. No crowds.
Traveling With Wrapped Gifts
After the terrorist attacks in Paris, the TSA is taking special precautions when it comes to travel safety. That means TSA may open your gifts to double check what’s inside. If you can, bring along the gifts, but wait to wrap them at your destination.
Keep in mind that incidents of luggage theft are always higher this time of year. To make sure you’re covered, take a picture of the inside of your luggage once you’re done packing.
Right now the TSA will also make all travelers go through body scanners. Normally, passengers can opt out of body scanners, so there may be some confusion and conversations at TSA screening. What does this mean for you? Security screening might take longer than normal.
One thing that can help you get through security faster is to make sure you’re aware of TSA regulations. The TSA 311 rule doesn’t just apply to water and shampoo—it also applies to food. Items such as jam, jelly, applesauce, maple syrup, peanut butter, and even some pies and creamy dips are considered liquids. What does that mean? The PB&J sandwich for your kid might be considered a liquid, and that pumpkin or pecan pie might not make it through.
It’s natural to keep your eyes fixed on the luggage carousel until your bag comes around and then take it off right away. That’s what most of us do. But that’s a mistake. Open your bags right at the carousel and double check that all the stuff you packed before your flight is still in there. Remember, luggage thieves don’t steal bags. They steal individual items from bags, hoping you won’t notice until you get home. Then it’s your word against the airline and you lose.
For more information about how you can prepare for a trip, check out:
- How to Fit Everything In One Bag: Carry-On Packing Tips
- 4 Ways You Can Get Around the TSA 311 Rule
- How Heightened Security Could Affect Holiday Travel This Year
By Peter Greenberg for PeterGreenberg.com