Holiday Travel Hacks That Will Save Your Sanity

By Jason Steele. Last updated 1 August 2016. 0 comments

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Are you dreading holiday travel? The traffic jam to the airport, the crowded lines, delayed flights, and other headaches associated with holiday travel? Don't worry. There are ways to make your travel this holiday season a lot more comfortable.

Fly Through Security with TSA Pre-Check

It's hard to predict how long the line at security will be. There really is no way to know in advance. Travelers are always advised to arrive at the airport extra early, which usually means waiting around the packed gate areas before your flight. But if you are savvy enough to join the TSA's Pre-Check program, you're virtually assured that you will have a short line and will be subjected to a far less invasive process. For example, Pre-Check members do not need to take off their shoes, unpack their liquids and laptops, or go through a full body scanner. To access this line, you must register in advance for Pre-Check ($85 for five years), or better yet, apply for the Global Entry program for $100 which also includes expedited immigration upon arrival from a foreign country. Thankfully, Pre-Check application fees are reimbursed by some credit cards including the American Express Platinum.

Carry a Lounge Pass, Just in Case

Airport lounges offer not just peace and quiet, but free food, drinks, Wifi, and more. But perhaps the greatest advantage of visiting a lounge comes when you are experiencing a flight delay or cancellation. In these cases, hundreds of travelers could be lining up to be rescheduled. Alternatively, your airline's lounge is typically staffed with representatives that can quickly assist you before the next flight is booked. To access the lounge, you'll need to pay for membership (or a day pass) or you could use a rewards credit card such as the Citi Aadvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard or the Delta SkyMiles Reserve Credit Card from American Express. (See also: Best Credit Cards with Free Airport Lounge Access)

Get Help

In the old days, travelers would call or page an experienced travel local agent whenever things went wrong, someone who always had someone available to help. These days, nearly all travelers book their own flights, or rely on online booking sites that aren't often as helpful as your local travel agent used to be. But if you are an inexperienced traveler in a pinch, you might try calling your credit card's concierge service, which can rapidly offer you assistance booking new reservations as necessary. Most reward credit cards offer some form of concierge which includes the service of experienced travel agents. Alternatively, you might consider paying for premium travel service like the Cranky Concierge, which specializes in tracking your trip, spotting problems in advance, and coming up with ingenious solutions.

Always have a Plan B. No matter how you are planning on getting to your destination, you must always consider what will happen if your flight is delayed or cancelled. This means booking a flight that arrives well in advance of any event or reservation that you simply can't miss. For instance, cruise lines always recommend that you schedule your flight to arrive at least 24 hours before sailing, so that you don't literally miss the boat. Having a Plan B can also mean knowing which alternate flights exist that could get you there on-time, or even being aware of other backup modes of transportation such as a bus or a train.

Uber It to the Airport

One of the hiccups that often affect travelers is parking. Not only is it expensive to park at the airport, but you can discover that the parking lots are full at the last minute, especially during the holidays. And even when it all works out, you still are left traversing an enormous airport lot, or wasting time waiting for a shuttle bus from a remote lot. In the past, most people's best alternative was a taxi. But today, ride sharing services like Uber and Lyft have fought and won access to most airports, and offer 24 hour service in many cities. Prices are often about half that of traditional taxi services, and you can start with $20 off first ride for new customers with code: LYFTAFF49255..

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