Guide to a Stress-Free Holiday

Air Travel Made Easier

What to know so that your flight is as calm and friendly as the skies you’re flying.

AirplaneMichele GastlRealSimple.com

Pack Right

Make sure that every piece of clothing can be worn with everything else. “You should pick some base colors,” says Paul Eisenberg, editorial director for Fodor’s Travel Publications. “Men can do this just as easily as women. With men it tends to be black or brown. And for women, beige is a color I hear recommended quite a bit. The key is to look at your wardrobe and pick the color that makes sense.”

Most travelers can make do with two sets of shoes. “If you’re going to be doing nightlife stuff, try to get away with a pair of smart but comfortable black rubber-soled shoes,” Eisenberg says. “You can use them for sightseeing as well as for dinner.” And since the airlines don’t count the clothes on your back as part of your carry-on allotment, it makes sense to wear your bulkiest items en route. Instead of taking a big winter coat, Eisenberg says, “I like packing fleece layers. If you’re flying, you can wear one on your back and keep one in your bag―and one doubles as a pillow.”

Prep for Security

Save time at security checkpoints by avoiding outfits with big metal belts that will set off the machines or lace-up boots that will take forever to untie and remove. The Transportation Security Administration (tsa.gov) recommends wearing thin-soled slip-on shoes (such as flip-flops) that you can get on and off easily and that won’t need additional screening. “Don’t dress for the airport,” says travel expert Peter Greenberg. “Undress for the airport. Get a couple of Ziploc plastic bags and put anything metal―car keys, loose change, PDA, cell phone, money clip, pens, jewelry―into the bags and keep them in your carry-on. After you’ve taken off your shoes and removed your jacket, you can breeze right through the metal detector and not hold up anyone else on line. Then dress after you’ve cleared security.”

You can get a sense for some wait times at security checkpoints around the country by visiting waittime.tsa.dhs.gov. Although the times listed are estimates and averages, not live data, they can give you an idea of the general traffic patterns. Also, when flying from an airport you’ve never used before, leave extra time in case of unexpected obstacles. Getting your boarding pass online or using an automated check-in kiosk will save time as well. If all else fails, “it certainly doesn’t hurt to let security know you’re late for your flight,” says travel analyst Jared Blank of Online Travel Review (onlinetravelreview.com). You may be allowed to move to the front of the line.

 
Read More About:Travel

Related Content

Paper construction of a car with luggage on roof by Matthew Sporzynski

6 Family-Friendly Road Trip Ideas

One car, five people, 400 miles, 842 bathroom breaks. A formula for disaster? Not if you have a smart plan.

What do you do to make air travel more enjoyable?

View Earlier Comments
Advertisement

Quick Tip

Illustration of suitcases

Packing for a family vacation? Travel versions of favorite games won’t crowd suitcases, and playing them will keep kids from begging to watch TV at night. Get more tips.