1. Arrive early. Anticipate tons of traffic and expect delays. We do, after all, live in Johns Creek and on a good day it's a 45-minute commute to the airport. Take MARTA if possible to avoid traffic jams. I know it takes 40 minutes to get to MARTA and we can be at Hartsfield in just about that much time, but for the holidays, check it out.
2. Carry on luggage is probably the best bet. Gate check your bags whenever possible. If you have chosen to check bags, make sure they are not more than 50 pounds. First class can take up to 70 pounds if flying internationally. Read the regulations on each carriers website. Here is a good list of regulations to read before thinking about your baggage: www.airfarewatchdog.com
3. Check out the airport lounge. If you are a member of a Sky Miles club, have an American Express Platinum Card and meet certain criteria (first class tickets, etc.) you can enter the lounges for free. If you are not a member or carry the Silver Card, think about paying the fee to enter for the day. If your flight is delayed you will have a quiet place to sit and relax. You can enjoy free WiFi, lovely snacks and drinks while there.
4. Smile, smile, smile. The gate attendants can make or break your travel. Be kind, smile and you will be on your way quickly. Let's not forget all the stories of passengers being booted off flights for, well, expressing themselves. Remember to behave and the world will be a happy place.
5. Take your noise canceling headphones. These little babies actually work quite well. They can make a flight with screaming babies, loud business associates or anyone else sharing their conversation with the entire aircraft a much quieter ride!
6. Download movies, videos, books, photos, etc. to your iPad, iPhone, Kindle, Blackberry or other device of your choice. It will make the time fly, no pun intended.
7. Eat something healthy. Believe it or not, it is very important to eat healthy before or during a flight. Swelling feet, hands and such can make the flight very uncomfortable. There are some really good restaurants in several airports around the country. Refer to this website for a few: www.airfarewatchdog.com. Once you pass through security, and we'll get to that in a minute, you are free to purchase any drinks or food of your choice.
8. Know the TSA regulations for the airport. Each airport has a TSA website, along with each airline's regulations. READ it before arriving at the security line. Here are a few things to do before you get to the check point. I suggest doing these before you get to the conveyor belt to avoid those stares from seasoned travelers. Remove your belts and change from pockets, take off your jackets and any outerwear, no not underwear, although it's not a far cry until we have to do that too, take off your shoes, remove your computer from its case, take mobile devices out of your pockets, keep an eye on your belongings and don't forget to take all your belongings on the other side. Laughing are you? It has happened.
9. Be aware of your surroundings at all times. There are many people in the airports watching every traveler to see who is an easy target for theft. Don't be fooled thinking you know what to look for. Professional thieves are very good at what they do. This applies to your departure as well as your arrival. Be very aware of approaching taxi drivers who offer you the cheapest fare. Go directly to the taxi stand and get your transportation there. Sharing these tips is an entire article in itself. Just be aware and stick together if you are traveling with your family.
10. Arrive safe. This is my most important advice. There is nothing better than arriving at your destination with all your possessions in tact. Follow the common sense rules and you'll be fine.
Travel Smart, Dream Big!
Happy Travels to you all.
This first appeared as a blog on Johns Creek Patch.