Posted: November 10, 2014

9 Travel Tips for the 2014 Holiday Season
Business travelers can fly prepared with these pieces of travel advice.

The holiday travel season is almost upon us, and you know what that means: historically crowded airports. Every year, those flying across the country to head home for Thanksgiving and Christmas run into snags. U.S. airlines expect 24.6 million passengers over the 12 days surrounding Thanksgiving, which marks a 1.5 percent jump from last year, according to Airlines for America, a trade group representing the biggest U.S. carriers. So, here are a few tips for traveling during the holidays.

1. Stay informed

Snow storms, delays, cancellations – a lot can happen during the busy travel season. Before stepping out the door, download handy apps that can save you time on your trip. Flight Status provides real-times updates on delays, baggage numbers and more. GateGuru gives you the approximate times you'll spend in security. For those hitting the road, find the cheapest gas with GasBuddy and the cleanest bathrooms courtesy of SitOrSquat.

2. Travel early morning

Although no one enjoys waking up for a 5:30 a.m. flight, statistics show that planes traveling earlier in the day have a better on-time performance. Besides, traffic on the road will be lighter, and if your plane gets canceled, you have the chance to reschedule to a flight later in the day.

3. Don't fly Nov. 30

If possible, avoid the airport on Nov. 30, the Sunday after Thanksgiving. Experts predict that this Sunday will be the worst day during the November holiday stretch because a total of 2.6 million passengers will be flying on U.S. carriers, according to the Airlines for America report. 

4. Consider getting the flu shot

Though a stirring issue for some, the Centers for the Disease Control and Prevention recommends getting the flu shot, citing it as the single best way to protect against the flu. The vaccine is generally a good idea when shuttling onto a close-quarter, single cabin full of 200-some passengers during peak sick seasons. 

5. Charge all electronics

With large crowds at the airport during holiday travel, power outlets will be at a premium. Prior to leaving the house, make sure all electronic devices are fully charged. Trick tip: If your phone starts running low, turn the brightness down to as low as possible while still staying visible. 

6. Hold off on wrapping gifts 

It's always fun to give and receive gifts during the holidays. TSA suggests shipping wrapped gifts or waiting until you reach your destination to wrap them, as they might have to unwrap a present to inspect it. A great, easily transportable alternative is to bring gift cards. 

7. Pack snacks

Instead of overspending on food in the terminals, pack some on-the-go snacks that will tide you over. Granola, beef jerky, an apple, trail mix and nutrition bars are all good choices.

8. Take everything out of your pockets

Here's a slice of advice to keep in your back pocket: Take everything out of your pockets when going through security. Full-body scanners can detect even a piece of paper. This will help expedite lines and prevent setting the buzzer off for trivial mental lapses. 

9. Put electronics on top

You know when the TSA security guard sitting behind the X-ray computer moves the conveyer belt back and forth several times to get a closer eye on an item? Keep things simple when you send items through security. Put electronics on top. If you forget and wind up with a prohibited item in your bag, the TSA will let you pay to mail it to yourself if it meets a size requirement.

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