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By Zach Giordano
| December 16, 2016
When December comes around, we all make the same promise: I’ll be home for the holidays. What we don’t promise is that we’ll be cool and calm by the time we arrive. As you prepare to navigate your holiday travel plans, here is a helpful list of expert tips and recommendations that will get you wherever you’re going a little easier. Plus, learn even more tips from travel star Adam Richman and watch him surprise Capital One MasterCard debit card holders with a Priceless Surprises getaway.
Get friendly with airlines By following airlines on social media or signing up for their newsletters, you’ll be the first to know whenever they offer discounts, promotions, or big-time holiday deals far in advance. And be ready to pounce. When it comes to online deals, every second counts.
Research your flight We shop around for the best gifts, so why not take time to shop around for the best flight? When you find a good deal, grab it: For 24 hours after purchase, airlines are required to let you hold a price or cancel a purchase on any non-refundable ticket that you bought at least a week in advance. Take that time to keep shopping and ensure you found the best deal.
Compile your travel contacts in one place Keep all the numbers handy for your airline, rental car, hotel, and other travel vendors so you can quickly refer to them in case of emergencies.
Rethink a checked bag Downsize and organize: Save time at the airport by only packing a carry-on, which allows you to skip the baggage check line and avoid lugging an oversized suitcase everywhere you go. Yes, you really can pack lighter.
Save room by wearing weight If you plan on packing any heavy jackets or thick sweaters, consider wearing them on your travels to save space in your luggage. Even if you’re heading to a warm weather spot, wear the cold weather clothes you’ll need for the return trip and only pack the light stuff. You’ll get more in.
Bring snacks To save you time on what are often long lines for not-so-healthy foods, store some of your favorite snacks in your luggage to munch along the way. Just be sure and check those pesky TSA requirements first. Fresh whole fruits are the easiest to take.
Ship gifts Unless you’ve bought everyone you love gift cards (not a bad idea), you should save the room and the hassle by shipping your gifts to your destination ahead of time. Just remember to include the “Don’t open until Christmas” tags.
Don’t wrap gifts If you’re flying, save the paper: Security will most likely be unwrapping your gifts at some point, undoing all your pretty bows and neat corners. If you can’t ship them, bring your gifts and buy some paper and bows to use once you land.
More tips after the break!
Kicking off the New Year in a huge way, four lucky Capital One cardholders in Boston will get to see their card’s benefits for themselves, as Capital One and travel experts presented them with the trip of a lifetime. Adam Richman even curated custom guides for each of the four destinations: Rome, Paris, London and Hong Kong. Feed your holiday cheer by watching Adam surprise these unsuspecting card holders with a priceless getaway, as Capital One is not only Redesigning Banking, but also redesigning adventure.
Power up There’s nothing worse than encountering a low battery while traveling, especially when outlets and power can be scarce. Make sure to charge all your devices (phone, tablets, laptops, headphones, etc.) before leaving the house so you don’t have to worry about running out of juice.
Defend against germs The holidays, and especially airplanes, are synonymous with sickness, so guard yourself against the sniffles, or worse, by packing plenty of hand sanitizer.
Assemble your digital toolbox Most travel sites and services have smartphone apps that can help you keep you up-to-date every step of the way. Flight Status offers real-time updates on delays, gate changes, and other need-to-know information. Gate Guru gives you a prediction of the time you’ll spend in security. If you’re traveling on the road, check GasBuddy for the cheapest pumps and SitOrSquat for the cleanest rest stops.
Map-out breaks beforehand If you’re driving, identify your food and bathroom breaks before leaving. It takes the stress out of having a passenger check Yelp to find the nearest and best pizza spot, or passing a rest area only to discover the next one is 38 miles away and your significant other isn’t too pleased about waiting.
Pack headphones Most likely at some point during your travels, you’re going to want to tune out. Break out your favorite playlist or podcast, plug-in, and escape your surroundings until your gate is called.
Travel at off-times The best times to travel are when everyone else is asleep, either early in the morning or late at night. Avoid the traffic on the roads and crowded terminals and catch your shut-eye on the way to your destination.
Pad time for the unexpected Plan ahead to give yourself generous time for layovers. Also, leave early. Leave almost comically early to ensure there’s more enough time to make it through security and any other stops that might hold you up.
Remember to breathe In between whatever heavy traffic, cancelled flights, and inconsiderate travelers you encounter on your way to the holidays, take time to take a few breaths in and out to clear your head. And consider this: stories of travels gone awry are as traditional as mistletoe and eggnog.