In particular, we recommend:
- Shop early, wrap your presents and ship them ahead. You know you can’t get a wrapped present through security anymore, so save time and baggage fees (and wrapping paper) by shipping everything ahead. Heck, while you’re at it, ship the extra diapers, gear, clothing, movies, favorite cereal and anything else you’ll need while on your visit.
- Start looking for airline fares yesterday. With Christmas Eve and Christmas on a Saturday-Sunday combo, there will be a mass stampede for the weekend flights with a Monday or Tuesday return. See the Airline Fees Guide 2011 to calculate the extra fees you could be paying.
- Check in at home (if you can). We recently read that some airlines won’t let you check in at home if you have indicated you will be traveling with an infant in your lap. If you can check in at home, you’ll save yourself one line at the airport.
- Pack light. We can’t stress this enough. If you followed step 1, you’re already ahead of the game, but packing light can save your back, your shoulders, and your patience. Plus, it’s loads cheaper than paying more bag fees. See our post on learning to pack light.
- Bring snacks and a water bottle. Airports are getting better about having healthy options, but by and large the food that is available is less than healthy. Plus, you’ll pay exorbitant markup for the snacks. You’ll have to fill the water bottle after you get through security, of course, but most vendors are happy to do that with a purchase of your morning coffee or tea for example.
- Lost baggage coverage or delayed baggage coverage (again, it’s a good thing you shipped stuff ahead!)
- Travel delay coverage in case of bad weather
- Car rental collision coverage (but check your credit card for this coverage first – you may already have it)
- and 24/7 travel assistance services