If you are one of the 98 million Americans who travel for the holidays, you've probably experienced waiting in a seemingly never-ending line filled with stressed-out adults and loud children to get through airport security.
Holiday travel is often viewed as a necessary evil for spending time with loved ones at Thanksgiving and Christmas. However, some preparation can go a long way in making the whole experience easier.
Here is a list of tips for each step of navigating air travel during the holiday rush.
Information comes from American Red Cross, Cheapflights.com, Smarter Travel, lifehacker.com, Travel and Leisure, tsa.gov, Fox News Travel, Conde Naste Traveler, U.S. News and World Report, Mothermag.com, travelwithjane.com, trip.org, azcentral.com, Forbes, ricksteves.com, and airlines.org.
Packing and leaving home
• If you live in a cold climate, leave the heat on to at least 55 degrees so the pipes don’t freeze.
• Clean out the refrigerator and take out garbage so you don’t come back to a smelly house.
• Use the Find Seat Maps page on seatguru.com to locate and choose the best seats on a flight.
• Check in to your flight online and print out your boarding pass at home to save time at the airport.
• Double and triple check for important items such as your passport, keys, wallet, boarding pass, etc.
• Lock the door!
• Charge electronics before leaving. There is no guarantee that outlets at the airport will be available, especially in the holiday rush.
• If possible, try to pack everything in a carry-on to avoid the baggage check line. This also decreases the risk of losing luggage.
• When it comes to packing, there is no shortage of methods. Bundling clothes can keep them from getting wrinkled, while rolling clothes up saves the most space. See the pros and cons of each method at lifehacker.com and do what best fits your needs.
• Take an Uber to the airport or have a friend drive you and pick you up to avoid parking fees, according to Cheapflights.
• Weigh bags before leaving and know exactly how many pounds your airline accepts to avoid fees or having to rearrange belongings in the middle of the airport.
• Put important numbers in your phone: numbers of any hotels you are staying in, your airline, the airport, and people picking you up from the airport.
• If you were considering packing holiday foods, the good news is that pie and turkey are TSA approved. However, only 3.4 ounces of liquids or gels are allowed in your carry-on, so you might be better off buying gravy when you get to your destination.
Traveling with gifts:
• Wait until you reach your destination to wrap gifts. TSA allows wrapped gifts, but they can unwrap them if they are suspicious of the contents. Fox News Travel suggests using gift bags for easy packing.
• Pack valuable or fragile gifts in your carry-on. Conde Naste Traveler suggests wrapping gifts in puffy clothing in the center of your suitcase to protect from any breaking or damage. Depending on the cost to check baggage, it might be cheaper and easier to ship gifts.
At the airport:
• Get to the airport early. Getting through security will most likely take longer than expected, and it’s always nice to avoid the stress of wondering whether or not you will miss your flight.
• Keep your passport, ID and boarding pass in an easily accessible place so you aren’t digging around for them when it’s your turn in line.
• Bring things to occupy your time. It’s always good to have non-electronic items like books that won’t run out of battery.
• Bring motion sickness medication such as Dramamine.
• Use name tags on your luggage. According to trip.org, write your name, the address of your destination and your phone number in case your luggage is lost.
• Take advantage of and know the airport’s amenities, especially if you have a layover. Not all airports are created equal. The San Francisco Airport has a 24-hour yoga room, and the Chicago O'Hare Airport offers deep dish pizza and is home to one of the world's largest dinosaur skeletons, according to U.S. News and World Report.
• Plan for kids if they are coming. Bring a change of clothes, hand-held games or coloring books that will take up time. Click here for more ideas of how to entertain children during a flight.
• Consider going through the application and screening process to qualify for TSA Precheck or Global Entry. Though it requires some work, it may pay off if you are a frequent flier. This program allows you to get through airport security quickly through an expedited process. You can avoid having to remove your belt, shoes or take out your laptop.
During the flight:
• Wear comfortable clothes that won't cause a hassle when going through security.
• Download movies before the flight. Netflix allows you to download shows and movies and watch them without wifi.
• Sanitize your tray table and drink an emergency-C to avoid getting sick.
• Chew gum to equalize air pressure in your ears, and offer it to other passengers to make friends for the flight.
How to beat jet lag:
• Though it may be difficult to get rid of the effects of jet lag completely, especially if you are traveling across several time zones, these tips may prove useful.
• Sleep during the flight to minimize effects of jet lag.
• Get on your destination’s schedule (or as close as is realistic) in the week before you leave.
• Stay up until bedtime at your destination. Force your body to transition to the current time.