Excitement fills the air as you walk through the airport doors. Thanksgiving is in three days, and you are flying out to spend time with family. First thinking about turkey and mashed potatoes, you pull your heavy suitcase over to the American Airlines bag check. Once you snap back to reality, you realize that at least 70 people are standing in front of you with the exact same goal. Small children cry, the dog in the carrier barks, and you groan. This endeavor will sure be interesting.
Let’s be real with each other here. I hate holiday traveling, and you probably do too. It’s primarily stressful to deal with everything you have to keep track of, but when you factor in all the worrisome people around you as well, the stakes are much higher. Below is a list of ways to contain your frets for traveling this Thanksgiving:
1. Create a physical list for packing
Whether you write it on a piece of paper, a whiteboard, or your cell phone, lists always help. As a key component of proper organization, writing down everything you will need and then crossing it off once it’s packed is a huge advantage. Another tip for creating lists is to make them more engaging. Use different colored markers or fonts, add bullet points, and put together something that you will enjoy looking at. A black pen-written index card is not captivating and more likely to cause you to forget something.
2. Use your phone!
Before you depart for the airport, download the app Gateguru onto your phone. It is easy to use and approximates the amount of time you will spend in security at a given airport. Then, you can stay well informed and be on time for all flights. Also download the app of your designated airline to receive information about your travels. Third, make sure to contact friends and family or have a plan B in case a flight is delayed or cancelled. A real-time weather app should be accessible on your phone, too. Weather in many places across the country during the winter months is extremely variable and may impact travel times as well.
3. Try to avoid checking bags
At all costs, everyone should try as hard as possible to carry his or her luggage on. It is understandable if you are going on a long-term vacation and need many more clothes, or you are bringing gifts for several family members. If you’re only going away for a few days, hear me out. Luggage can and will get lost, especially if you have connecting flights. Then you’ll be stranded without your belongings, forced to wear Grandma’s pajamas and Uncle John’s trousers. Instead, try to fit everything inside carry ons (and check your airline’s website to see how many carry on bags you are allowed).
4. Remember the little things
They may be easy to forget, but small items like earplugs and chargers may end up being some of the most important for your trip. Ensure that you have all applicable things you may need for traveling. This is not limited to but includes glasses or a spare pair of contacts, boarding confirmation, portable chargers, and prescription medication. A helpful trick is to keep these things in a bag you will have on your person, in case checked luggage goes missing. Even though you won’t have the entirety of your things, you will have the necessities (or the things you can’t find in any plain drugstore).
5. Take a deep breath
As foolish as it may sound, enjoy yourself. At some point, you will reach your destination. Dinner on Thanksgiving will be just that much more interesting when you tell the story of the quirky lady next to you on your first flight. Many other people are in the same predicament as you, so be flexible and remember that kindness goes a long way.