The Ultimate Holiday Travel-Tip Refresher Course

Samantha Brown shows you how to create your game plan should things go awry.

How to Pack a Carry-On

My rule for clothes: 3 pairs of pants plus 3 tops isn’t 3 outfits, it’s 9! Choose a neutral color scheme and then bring belts, scarves and jewelry to change the outfit from casual to upscale. 

My rule for shoes: Only bring 3 pairs! And that includes the pair you’re wearing on the plane. Most women cry when I tell them this and I remind them that they are traveling not hosting the Oscars.

Travel Apps You Have to Have

Twitter: Reach out to your hotel, airline and destination directly using social media to get quicker customer service.

Flight Aware: Information = empowerment. Not only does this app update you on your gate and arrival time, but it also gives tracking info on the inbound flight! If the inbound plane is late, I know my flight is going to be delayed and I confirm the delay with the gate agent. Now I am no longer tethered to my gate! Depending on the delay, I can go have a sit-down meal or set up shop at another gate with available outlets to charge my dead phone battery. 

Hotel Tonight: You never know when weather, mechanical difficulties or a fight with your in-laws (who you were supposed to stay with) is going to present the opportunity for an unexpected hotel stay. This app gives you nice-to-luxury hotels at a very affordable price on the night of.   

Gate Guru: Some of the terminals have epic hikes to the gate. You make it to your gate, Gate 75, and that’s when you realize the last stop for coffee was Gate 33. Or you don’t know if there are better restaurant choices around the bend. Gate Guru takes all the guesswork and legwork out of it -- telling you which services, stores and restaurants are immediately surrounding where your gate is.

Headspace: A mindfulness-and-meditation app, Headspace, gives you quick, 10-minute practices you can do anywhere at anytime. We all need to breathe deeply when traveling for the holidays.

How to Survive the Airport

Get there in plenty of time. Base your arrival on the BOARDING time of your flight not the departure, which could be 30-to-45 minutes earlier, and factor in 30-to-45 minutes to get through security. There are so many UNKNOWNS getting to and through the airport -- even with all the apps in the world -- the best tactic is to buffer in a lot of extra time. 

Plan your return. When you get to your arrival airport don’t just beeline it to baggage claim. Take a look around -- what restaurants, play areas … or back massage services are available? How long does it take to get through the airport? Do you exit the terminal directly into baggage claim or do you have to take a tram. Now you’ll be better prepared when you come back to that airport to go home. 

How to Survive the Plane

You have to bring your own comfort. Pack earplugs, a sweater wrap and an “I will survive this” amenity kit: moisturizer, lip balm, tissues, aspirin and chocolate). Now that the weather’s cold, bring your down jacket –it makes a great down comforter or pillow!

This really works! If you have young children, send Parent 1 with the car seat and as many carry-on bags as possible during the pre-board (yes, you’ll resemble a pack mule). Parent 1 sets up shop, while Parent 2 waits back at the gate until most of the plane has boarded. Parent 2 walks kids on the plane to everything in place. It’s a stress minimizer.  

To recline or not to recline? My advice is should you want to recline wait about 15-to-30 minutes after you reach the cruising altitude when people have settled. Think about it: the airport experience is an assault on personal space, with long lines and fights over room in the overhead bin. Everyone’s tempers are slightly to highly on edge. Practice patience and wait until people are calm. Then hit ‘em in the head with the back of your seat!

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