Heading out of town for the holidays? Before you pack your bags and hit the airport, read our tips for stress-free holiday family travel, below, and you’ll be ready to fly like a reindeer in no time:
1. Think Naked Gifts: Beware secret Santas, TSA has the right to make you open wrapped gifts (I once saw a traveler forced to unravel myriad layers of bubble wrap from a Tiffany’s trinket at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport; it was painful to watch). Consider shipping gifts ahead if you’re planning to carry on luggage; the cost is often the same as checking a bag. Or, bring gift bags and tissue paper that pack nice and flat and wrap your presents on arrival.
2. Food for Thought: What do cranberry sauce, minced meat, and gravy all have in common? They’re all a big NO to take through security if they weigh more than 3.4 ounces. If you’re intent on carrying holiday provisions on your flight, check the TSA list of acceptable food here. Or wrap them well and tuck them a suitcase to check at the airport. (Note: you can bring pies and cake onboard.)
3. Snow Globe Protocol: Trying to capture the season with a snowy souvenir? Unfortunately for kitsch collectors, snow globes larger than 3.4 oz are not allowed in your carry on bag since they’re filled with water. However, if your globe is less than 3.4 oz, and can fit in the single 1-qt plastic bag that you’re allowed to carry through security for your toiletries, you can bring it through (or just buy one in the airport and avoid security altogether).
4. A Win/Win Holiday Travel Perk: Have a Chase United credit card? Bring a gift for Toys for Tots to the Chase United VIP Lounge in the Short Hills Mall on Tuesday December 8 or 15, and in return you’ll receive a free United Club pass. Bring two gifts, get two passes. Kids get in free to the airport lounge with an adult, so your whole family gets to enjoy the lap of airport luxury. Plus, deserving kids will get your presents for the holiday—now that’s a holiday travel win/win.
5. Tempus Fugit: – Finally, it won’t matter how many great holiday travel tips you know if you miss your flight. Leave plenty of time — 90 minutes minimum — to get from the curb to your gate; that’s in addition to the time you need to travel to the airport, and park your car, or take the monorail to the terminal.
Safe travels and happy holidays!
(Photo: Flickr with added Santa cap)