Most military personnel will agree that juggling a busy schedule, having limited time off, and being away from loved ones for so long is not an easy task. When planning to get away during the holidays with the family, it can become even tougher! For an easy and stress-free experience when traveling for the holidays, there are a few things you should know. As military personnel, it’s important to be knowledgeable about what you’re entitled to when it comes to air travel during the holiday season. You also need to be prepared for crowds, delays, and other obstacles while trying to get to your destination during the most hectic time of the year for travel.
Read on to learn how to travel effortlessly with your family during the holidays.
Enable Fare Alerts
Not only is this a great feature for discovering the best deals, but it’s even better when the holidays and high travel season rolls around. Searching for affordable fares during the holidays isn’t that easy. For those in the military, time is usually limited; setting up alerts and notifications to find the best travel deals is a fast and easy route to booking, rather than spending your precious time searching for low fares. Setting up a fare alert is easy: just enter your email address, the destination and dates you’d like to travel, and you’ll be notified once the route you were searching for drops in price!
Book in Advance
Before booking, look for alternate dates and red-eye flights. Dates and times such as these are less likely to spike in price as many travelers prefer to leave early morning or mid-day, and a day or two before the holiday. Being flexible with dates and times may lead you to save on your travels and avoid the chaotic crowded airports. And, who doesn’t love to save some extra cash during the holiday season? Whether it be super early in the morning or very late at night, list out all your options and choose the flight that works best for you and your family.
Don’t Bother with Checking in Bags
Carry-on bags are a better option than checked baggage because they help save money by avoiding baggage fees. If you’re military personnel, you and your dependents may be exempt from checked baggage fees. But before you book, check with your airline for their policy towards military personnel and families. And whether you’re apart of the military or not, it’s best to bring only carry-on bags, especially if you’re taking a short trip. Airports packed with travelers will reflect baggage claim wait times, so if you’re in a hurry, stow your bags in the overhead bins for your own convenience.
Don’t Wrap Presents
Let’s face it, you’re bound to travel with some presents during the holidays. If you’re planning to fly with wrapped gifts, whether checked or carried on the aircraft, we advise you think again. While home from the military, save some of your hard-earned time off by avoiding wrapping presents in advance. Most wrapping paper is made with some type of metal foil that will probably trigger a security machine, which will lead to a TSA agent searching your bags and unwrapping your neatly wrapped presents. Instead, pack gift bags and tissue paper in your luggage; they’re easy to pack and are quick to put together once you arrive at your destination.
Opt for TSA PreCheck
Any traveler can apply to pay for TSA PreCheck. However, if you’re military personnel, you can get PreCheck for free when purchasing your flight by entering your DoD identification number (found on the back of your CAC identification card). Children aged 12 and under can go through TSA PreCheck with their military parent who is authorized to do so. Military spouses are not included, but they can apply for TSA PreCheck individually.
Having TSA PreCheck will get you through security much faster than the standard TSA line. You’ll surely be grateful for this perk during the busy holiday travel season. Although security lines can always be a long wait, it’s even worse during the holidays with the abundance of travelers flying out from November to January. Even if you’re not military, you may be eligible to pay for PreCheck when purchasing your airline ticket. If so, we recommend you do so for quick and easy screening.
Try to Avoid Germs!
As you probably know, cold and flu season is upon us. As a member of the military, you’re probably already vaccinated with your flu shot, but for the rest of your family, it’s always good to avoid catching any type of bug during the holiday season. Sitting alongside a number of people on an aircraft comes with germs that can be easily passed on. To prevent sickness, we suggest you pack vitamins (high in Vitamin C) and bring sanitary wipes to wipe down your seat and hands. Before you board the aircraft, purchase some water or any beverage to stay hydrated. And although you can catch a common cold or the flu anywhere, traveling via public transportation with sanitary materials will decrease your chance of getting sick for the holidays.
Know of any other useful holiday travel hacks? Tell us in the comments below!