Here’s what to pack for your holiday trip… and three things to leave at home!
The world continues to open back up, and a new survey from PWC says that 47% of Americans are planning to travel this holiday season. (That’s more people than pre-Covid times in 2019!)
As you get ready to pack for your trip, there are some things you should bring along, a few things to leave at home, and a couple of things the TSA would REALLY like you to know!
A carry-on… and only a carry-on if you can!
If you haven’t tried packing light for your trip, give it a shot! I’ve mentioned before that I used to be the guy who used 49.5 lb. of my 50 lb. limit on a checked bag. Since my wife convinced me to pack fewer clothes and “stuff,” I’ve found trips to be more enjoyable and have saved so much time waiting at baggage claim. You’ll also greatly reduce the possibility that during a busy travel surge, your checked luggage gets delayed or lost. Make sure your carry-on fits the dimensions allowed by your airline, and know that international carry-on sizes are generally smaller than domestic flights.
Make sure to bring any medication, including prescriptions, along for your trip. I take a few prescriptions daily and always try to bring at least seven days more than the actual trip itself in case I need to stay longer or there’s a flight delay on the way home. I do the same with my daily contacts as well. The TSA has a complete guide here.
Earbuds (wired and/or wireless)
They don’t have to be expensive, but a decent pair of earphones are your best friend on a plane ride. Not only can you enjoy your favorite tunes and connect to your phone, it’s also a polite way to tell that chatty seatmate, “Hey, I’m going to get some rest now.” Higher-end, noise canceling headphones will allow you to drown out nearby conversations and general aircraft sounds. Cheaper headphones will do fine but may become uncomfortable after wearing them for long flights. The Shure earphones I use are somewhere in the middle. I’ve had them for about five years, and they’re small, sound great, and come with a nice little zippered case with a belt clip. Heads up, if you normally have AirPods or other wireless headphones and your plane is equipped with a seatback entertainment system for movies, be sure to bring along wired headphones, as many systems won’t have a Bluetooth connection.
Your airline’s app and a flight tracker app
I like to know what’s up with my flight, so make sure you download your airline’s app and are signed in with your itinerary. Most airline apps will give you real-time alerts for gate changes, delays, and cancellations. I also think it’s kind of geeky-cool to watch what’s happening in the skies around you. I use free apps like FlightAware, FlightRadar24, FlightView, and FlightStats to keep tabs on departures, arrivals, delays, and on-time histories for flights I’m looking at booking or am traveling on.
Your (100% valid) ID
It seems like a no-brainer, right? I was leaving on an important work trip and nearly had an out-of-body experience at the security checkpoint as the TSA agent reviewed my driver’s license and said, “you know this is expired, right?” Thankfully, the TSA’s current policy accepts “expired driver’s licenses or state-issued ID a year after expiration.” However, beginning May 3, 2023, if you’re going to use your driver’s license or another form of ID for any flight in the US, it will need to be REAL ID compliant. Find out more about REAL ID here. Your passport is a safe bet for any trip, but your roadside assistance, credit card, or discount club card won’t fly. Literally. If flying internationally, be sure to check your destination’s passport and visa requirements as some countries won’t allow passports that expire within three or six months of travel.
I know, it’s easier said than done, right? But the holidays are one of the busiest times for a lot of businesses, including airports. Leave earlier than you normally would for your trip to allow time for additional crowds, parking, and check-in. And leave even earlier than that if you’re traveling with little ones! (See my tips on traveling with kids here.)
Do you use really good conditioner on your hair? I totally get it. But, that $70 bottle you got from your salon won’t be able to make the trip in your carry-on, and you’ll be super sad to have it confiscated at security. Instead, follow the TSA’s 3-1-1 rule:
Liquids, gels, and aerosols packed in carry-on must be:
- 3.4 ounces or less per container
- All fit in a 1-quart size clear, plastic, zip top bag (all liquids must fit in bag)
- Each passenger gets 1 bag max
Not sure if you can bring something on board?
I wanted to take a fishing rod with me as a carry-on and wasn’t sure if that was allowed. (Fun fact, it is!) If you’re not sure if your deer antlers, Christmas lights, or crochet hook is allowed on board, just use the TSA’s handy “What Can I Bring?” site. It’s a very helpful guide to let you know what’s allowed in your carry-on, what you can put in checked luggage, and what should never be brought to an airport.
(Fun fact: all those things are allowed.)
Get PreCheck and save time.
In September 2022, 93% of TSA PreCheck members waited less than five minutes in line at security.
Five. Whole. Minutes. That’s it!
More than 200 airports across the country, including CVG, participate in PreCheck. It saves you the hassle of removing your shoes, belt, laptop, liquids, and light jackets at the TSA checkpoint. The cost is $85 for five years (that’s just $17 per year or $1.42 a month), and enrollment is easy. But it might not cost you anything if you have a credit card that offers this benefit free of charge. The TSA maintains a list of participating cards here.
As an added benefit, kids ages 12 and under traveling with a parent or legal guardian can join them in the PreCheck line.
In addition to a pretty strong meme game, the TSA also provides helpful travel advice and tips throughout the year. With more than a million followers, you might want to give them a follow as well. Find them @TSA on Instagram.
We’ve taken a few trips with Air Canada and love the flight options they offer. Spend more time experiencing the wonderful city of Toronto, or use it as a quick connection to destinations across Canada and even onto Europe.
Want to go somewhere new and save money on your next flight? Check out the Jay’s Deals page to find great prices on flights across the country and around the world!
Wishing you a very happy holiday season, wherever you might find yourself celebrating this year!