Surviving Holiday Travel
How to use your smart phone and a few tips to make your holiday travel less stressful.
These days we have so many options available to make travel easier and more affordable. And what better time of the year to utilize these choices than the stress-filled holidays? Here’s some tips for how to survive holiday travel and make the holidays a more Zen-like experience.
If you travel via plane more than a few times a year I’d highly recommend enrolling in TSA Pre✔. You pay $85 to be enrolled for five years ($17/year) and can stroll through security without having to mess with your shoes, laptop, liquids, belts or light jacket. Simply apply online and schedule an appointment at an enrollment center. The appointment/background check takes 10 minutes (includes being fingerprinted) and you will usually know within a couple weeks if you’ve been approved. I can’t imagine holiday travel without it!
If you have kids ages 12 and under who are traveling with an eligible parent or guardian with the Pre✔ symbol on their boarding pass, they can go through expedited screening as well. The only downsides are that the Pre✔ lanes are sometimes closed and some airports don’t have them. Also, not all airlines participate in the program. If you look on the plus side however, in July 2016, 97% of TSA Pre✔ passengers waited less than five minutes in security lines. You’ll have to decide if it’s worth it! Check the TSA website for more information.
The Sharing Economy
The “sharing economy” (aka “collaborative consumption”) has taken the world by storm.
Sites like Poshmark make selling your used clothing a breeze. Borrowlenses.com allows you to rent professional photo or video gear which is amazing if you only need a certain lens for one paid gig. It’s also great for testing out gear you’re thinking about buying.
Can’t bake worth a damn but you can tune a piano? On Zaarly.com you can purchase or provide services. These are just a few of the great ways to save money and keep items out of our landfills. Here’s a couple more necessities when traveling.
Seriously, if you haven’t tried out Airbnb by now, you really need to. It’s been around for about 8 years now and is basically an online site where you can find unique travel experiences at reasonable prices (usually MUCH less than a hotel). There are currently over 2 million listings worldwide, in almost 200 countries. Lodging options range from hostel-like environments to private rooms in someone’s house to castles, villas, quiet homes for an entire family, or apartments in the middle of the bustling city. It’s an amazing way to meet people and live like the locals do. An app is available for iOS and Android.
Gone are the days of overpriced taxi rides. Uber connects you with an affordable ride and gives you the price upfront. Your tip is included in the total so there’s no awkward cash exchanges or taxi drivers lecturing you on how much money they lose when you use a credit card to pay. And you meet really interesting people.
Just recently I talked with one driver about the state of North Korea and in the same day had the chance to practice speaking Spanish with a driver from Guatemala. The app can be downloaded from iTunes or Google Play. Our only advice is to double check that Uber is approved to pick up passengers at the airport you’ll be needing a ride from.
Apps and Your Smartphone
If you’ve got a smartphone, make sure you’re taking advantage of all the travel apps. Check in online through airline apps or save your boarding pass to your iPhone Wallet. Apps like GateGuru give you real time updates such as wait times for security lines, flight delays, gate changes, or changes in layover times. You can also quickly find the amenities offered at the airport and even rent a car. Heading somewhere and you don’t speak the language? Get an app like Bravolol for basic vocabulary and pronunciation.
Winter Road Travel
If your holiday travel includes a road trip, and there’s a possibility of storms or snowy weather, make sure you’re prepared. Below is a list of items that could come in handy if you’re stuck in bad weather on a road trip.
- Fill up your gas – bad traffic or a road closure is not something you want to encounter with an empty tank of gas
- Snacks and water can be your best friend (especially if you’ve got kids in the car)
- Your cell phone charger
- Extra clothing + blankets
- First Aid Kit
- Jumper Cables
- A firestarter
- Snow chains