The first semester of the year is almost over and many students are making the trek back to the parental units. Holiday travel can be stressful for anyone, especially young adults who may not have so much experience. Here are some travel tips for college students going home for the winter break.
Shop around to get cheap airfare
The farther out you reserve a ticket, the cheaper it is likely to be. Over 30 days is best. And stay over a Saturday night (rather than traveling from, say, a Tuesday to a Thursday) for cheaper rates. Air tickets are almost always cheaper online than by calling a travel agent or the airline directly. Sites like CheapFlights, Expedia, Travelocity, Orbits and Hotwire offer a variety of prices on direct or connecting flights. Spend a few minutes shopping around to find the best deal. Priceline will offer even more savings if you can be flexible in your schedule.
Get to the airport early!
It’s less stressful to get to the airport an extra hour or so and wait than it is to get there late, wait in line, rush to your gate and worry if you’ll make your flight. Go early and chill out with a coffee and a magazine, your smart phone and music, or watch some news on the overhead TVs. You’ll also be there early enough to learn of changed or delayed flights so you can plan accordingly.
Navigate TSA checkpoint hell
Even a decade after 9/11, airport security is still tight and crowds are big getting through TSA checkpoints. Before you pack for your trip, download the TSA’s app at www.tsa.gov/mobile for the list of items you cannot carry on, and other travel advice.
Some surprising things you can’t take on carry-on:
- wrapped presents
- liquids over 3.4 ounces
- jar of peanut butter, cranberry sauce, yogurt, pudding, cheese spread, maple syrup
- gel-type candles, perfume, wine, scissors
- liquid soap, toothpaste, mouthwash, gel deodorants, hair styling gel
- spray paint
- cigarette lighters and strike anywhere matches
- baseball bats, hockey sticks, and other large sporting equipment
- most tools, such as hammers, drills, and screwdrivers longer than seven inches
You’ll be happy to know that snow globes and gel shoe inserts have just been taken off the prohibited list!
Keep electronics like laptops, tablets, cameras and phones out of their cases and available for inspection. Andrew Tarantola of Gizmodo offers more advice: “Keep your mouth shut and don’t be a pest. And try not to harass the other slowpoke passengers… Behave like an adult and we might all just get through this,” reported in 6 Tips For Getting Through TSA Checkpoints Quickly this Holiday Season, reported by Liz Klimas in TheBlaze.com, November 19, 2012.
Disabilities and special needs
Most airports have accommodations for wheelchair access and other special needs such as difficulty walking, medical needs and medication, metal implants, diabetes and other circumstances. When you make your reservations, check off the box requesting special assistance or alert the travel agent. Representatives are available at the airport to help. You can also download the Disability Notification Card for Air Travel on the TSA site.
When it all becomes too much, just relax
Even the best traveler would be tearing their hair out. Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D., offers a technique called “Be an Ambassador of Compassion” from his book Mindfulness Meditations for the Anxious Traveler: Quick Exercises to Calm Your Mind and listed in “60 Seconds To Stress-Less Holiday Travel,” November 20, 2012, in HuffingtonPost.com. Noting that up to 40 percent of people struggle with some form of anxiety about traveling, he suggests: “When sitting on a plane…consider all the other people on the plane who are also struggling with being anxious. […] Be an ambassador of compassion, connecting with your heart and saying: May you feel safe and protected. May you be at ease. May you be free from fear.”