Published On: Dec 24 2013 04:48:44 PM CSTUpdated On: Dec 22 2015 01:00:00 AM CST
AAA projects the number of year-end holiday travelers this year will top 100 million for the first time on record. With all those people traveling, stormy weather could make for huge delays and headaches. Follow these tips from CNN for (hopefully) calm travels this holiday week.
Figure out a plan B. Don't wait to get into the airport or the last rest stop before developing your backup plan. Do it now, while you're still in the safety of your own home.
Don't drive into a storm. Monitor your local and regional forecasts. If the weather report in your departure or arrival city advises staying put for safety reasons, consider not hitting the road.
Prepare for emergencies. If there's a possibility that bad weather could hit while you're on the road, make sure to have cold weather clothing and shoes, extra water and snacks, charged up devices, diapers for the little ones, a full tank of gas and flares in case you get stopped by weather.
Check your flight, no matter where you're going. Think you don't have to worry about bad weather because you're flying from sunny California to sunny Florida? Not so fast. That airplane you're picking up in San Diego may have been coming from Minneapolis or Chicago and get delayed due to weather. Check your aircraft's journey on your airline website, or Aviation Queen travel blogger Benet J. Wilson recommends the Flightview app to track your aircraft's path.
Use social media. Follow your airline and airport on social media, namely via Twitter and Facebook. Many airlines and airports post the speediest updates to their Twitter feeds, so start following them now, even if you don't use Twitter otherwise. Sign up for your airline alerts to get flight updates emailed to your smartphone.
Try rebooking your flight. Many airlines have teams devoted to tracking the weather and rearranging flight schedules to avoid bad winter weather. If the weather proves too dangerous for flight, airlines often offer customers the opportunity to rebook their flights to leave earlier or later free of charge, before you leave for the airport. Sometimes, the airlines will even waive fees to rebook customers who see the writing on the wall and call before the bad weather hits. No guarantees, but it's worth a try, said Airfare Watchdog President George Hobica.
Charge your devices. Expect crowds surrounding the electrical outlets at your departure airport to increase if your flight is delayed. And don't expect rest stops to share their outlets with you. Have a car charger and stash a power pack or a few battery chargers for your portable electronic devices (useful for driving or flying).
Stock up on snacks. Get non-perishable snacks and drinks for the car (if you're flying, avoid the drinks, but carry an empty water bottle to refill after you clear airport security). Granola bars, beef jerky, dried nuts and fruit and other protein-rich snacks can keep you and the children going without spending a fortune at rest stops or the airport. (Drivers can pack lunch in a cooler to reduce costs further.)
Do more than stand in line. If you're stranded at the airport, don't only go to the ticket counter. Use the NextFlight app and type in your departure and destination cities to get the next flights for the major airlines, Wilson said. Then, call the airline on your cellphone and give them your preferred options. You might get booked on another flight before you reach the front of the line. (Also consider nearby cities where you can rent a car and drive to your final destination.)
Stay home next year. "There are so many rookies out, a lot of first-timers at the airports. The planes are completely packed, and it's expensive," said travel expert Johnny "Jet" DiScala. He was talking about Thanksgiving, but the same certainly applies to Christmas.