flatlay with a travel map, passport, instax camera and a coffee mug
Photo: Element5 Digital

Air travel during the winter holidays can feel like a complete nightmare. Of course, everyone is planning on traveling at the exact same time, so the airports are crowded and chaotic. With the chaotic atmosphere, there’s more risk of the airline misplacing your checked bags so that your carefully packed items don’t arrive at your travel destination. And winter weather can lead to scheduling conflicts that can ruin all of your vacation plans.

So how can you prepare for these holiday travel problems, without panic and anxiety? Here are a few of the things you try doing:

Preparing for Crowded Airports

You won’t be able to rush through the airport at this time of year. It’s going to be crowded, and you are going to have to contend with long, slow-moving lines. If you underestimate this problem, you could end up taking too long to get to your boarding gate and miss your flight.

  • Come to the airport before the time:

To avoid a missed flight, head to the airport early. While arriving at the airport 3 hours ahead of time seems excessive, it’s much better than feeling panicked that you’re going to miss your flight. It will be worth the boredom to make it to your boarding gate with plenty of time to spare.

What else can help you contend with long lines? You could sign up for TSA PreCheck, which can dramatically cut down your time spent going through airport security. Flyers with TSA PreCheck get to go through dedicated security lines.

  • Do a self-check-in:

If you’re not planning to check any bags and are only bringing a carry-on bag for your flight, you can also make your check-in experience a little shorter. Go to check in at a self-serve kiosk instead of lining up at the usual check-in counter. Download your airline’s app to access your mobile boarding pass instead of getting one printed out. This should save you some time and get you moving toward security faster.

collage with luggage in the airport and a woman fondling her case

Preparing for Lost Luggage

You’re worried about checking your luggage and it not arriving at your destination. You’ll need it to be there because it has your clothes and even your holiday gifts packed in there.

To prepare for this holiday travel problem, pack your carry-on luggage wisely. Essentials that you can’t go a day without (like prescription medications) should be packed in this carry-on bag. You should also pack a fresh pair of clothes to change into in case your checked bag goes missing.

Before your travel date, try to avoid purchasing Christmas gifts that need to travel with you. Get digital gifts like e-gift cards, subscription memberships, or electronic money transfers. If you’re ordering physical gifts from online retailers, have them sent directly to the recipient’s address instead of your own. Not only will this save you from disasters like delayed luggage (where the presents won’t arrive), but it can also save you money! Your checked bags will weigh less when they’re not stuffed to the brim with gifts, so you won’t have to pay any extra checked baggage fees for crossing the airline’s weight limit policies.

Preparing for Delayed Flights

Snowstorms can turn airport schedules upside down because planes won’t leave the tarmac until the weather is considered safe enough for flying. This could delay your flight by hours – or even days – depending on the severity of the weather.

Prepare yourself for this very real possibility when you’re traveling. How? If you can afford to, give yourself a buffer for your travel time. For instance, booking your flight on December 20th will give you plenty of time to handle delayed flights so that you can still arrive by Christmas Day. This strategy may not be possible due to factors like your personal budget, your work schedule, and your room arrangements at your destination.

collage with an opened luggage bad filled with clothes and a passport

Preparing Travel Insurance

Another thing that you can do is sign up for travel insurance. When it comes to delayed flights, your airline should provide all flyers with a ticket to the next available flight to that location at no cost. However, maybe that flight isn’t convenient for you – or maybe that flight leaves you stranded in a place where you’ll have to stay overnight. This means you’ll need to book a hotel room or get another rental vehicle. Travel insurance should help you recoup some of these financial losses.

It takes time for your travel insurance claims to go through. So, you will want to have an emergency fund full of savings that you can rely on in this particular crisis. You can use the pool of savings to cover urgent expenses while you’re waiting for your next flight.

Preparing an Emergency Fund

What if you don’t have enough in your emergency fund? You could use your credit card, or you could try to apply for a line of credit loan. Learn about what could affect your approval for a borrowing solution like a line of credit loan. You’ll want to know this information to better understand your chances of getting approved. If you don’t meet all of the essentials for a line of credit approval, you will have to turn to a different borrowing solution for help dealing with your emergency expenses.

Let's wrap up...

The holiday season is always connected with extra troubles and anxiety. This can be especially triggering for people prone to panicking behaviors. But don't fret! A little bit of preparation can help you get through a hectic airport during the holidays. If these travel troubles strike, you’ll be ready to recover from them right away.

Lots of love,