Mike and I have traveled during the holidays almost every year since we’ve been married. Travel stresses people out, especially at the holidays, but I don’t mind it.
Thinking my lack of stress meant I would have something valuable to share about holiday travel, I started brainstorming my best ideas.
Then I realized that I’ve made many painful travel mistakes, and I’m more qualified to share holiday travel DON’T’s than DO’s.
Pack at the last minute: There are worse things to procrastinate on than packing, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve forgotten underwear or my toothbrush or deodorant – or all three – because I rushed through packing.
It’s never a huge crisis, but it is annoying, and it really stresses my husband out when I haven’t made even the vaguest attempt to pack the night before. I don’t mind rushing to get out the door, but Mike gets that worried look on his face just thinking about it, so I try to fight my tendency.
Leave something valuable on the plane: I’ve never lost anything on the plane, until Wednesday. I like to have anything I could possibly need within arm’s reach. What if they leave on the seatbelt sign? I don’t want my work and books and journals held captive in the overhead storage bin.
Somehow I think I’ll write a blog post, read my Kindle, a library book, a magazine and write in my journal. On a four hour flight. Let’s be honest, I’m going to nap for a significant chunk of that time.
Having all my stuff around me feels comforting, but it’s hard to remember everything in the deplane shuffle. This time, I left my Kindle in the seatback pocket. I’m waiting to hear from Southwest if they’ve found it.
Arrive at the airport less than an hour before your flight leaves: Last year, we had a 6AM flight from Phoenix to Oakland on December 21st. We figured an hour before our flight would be plenty of time, especially since it was the first flight of the day. Wrong.
We rolled up while it was still dark, our eyes adjusting to the bright airport lights, when we saw what must have been a mirage: a line so long you would have thought we were at Disney World. Our flight had left by the time we checked our bags.
Luckily, there are 600 flights a day between Phoenix and Oakland, so we were able to enjoy a leisurely breakfast and get on another flight about an hour later. Mike loves arriving places early. I can’t stand it because I hate waiting around longer than I need to. I may have said it would be “ridiculous” to arrive more than an hour early last year. Oops. This year, we’ll probably just go ahead and spend the night in the airport.
Leave your phone charger in a checked bag: Maybe your phone dying isn’t the worse thing that can happen, but it kind of is. How are you going to text your ride from the airport to let them know you’ve arrived? Use a pay phone, like it’s 1975?
If your bags are lost or you need to use your phone as a hotspot during your layover, it’s good to know your charger is easily accessible. It might not come as a surprise to you that Mike is thinking of staging an intervention between me and my screens.
Abandon healthy eating: Airport dining options may be limited, but they’ve improved. It’s a lot easier to choose wisely now. Sitting all day isn’t exactly refreshing, but energizing food goes a long way toward a healthy trip.
What other travel mistakes should we try to avoid?
This post is part of the holiday edition: doing less to build more series.