To paraphrase Ellen Griswold from National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, we’re often in misery at Christmas. For those of us flying out, much of that misery is travel-related. It’s the rush to the airport, pushing through the crowds, the discomfort on the plane and wallet-hurting additional expenses.

Christmas travel stress has to stop. You can be fully prepared for travel and save yourself the airport panic for the majority of the time. We’ll show you how to beat the stress before, during and after your flight.

Before the flight

  • Any other colour is the new black. Go for a more recognisable colour than black when choosing your luggage, as it will make it much easier to spot on the carousel.
  • Call your bank if you’re travelling overseas to ensure you’re authorised to use your credit cards. Being locked out for “unauthorised activity” is never fun. Also check for any fees or surcharges.
  • Make electronic copies of your passport, ID and flight/hotel itineraries. You’ll have an all-important backup in case you lose your documents.
  • Place ‘fragile’ stickers on your bags. This will ensure your baggage will be handled with care and be among the first on the carousel after your arrival.
  • Research money exchange options. Currency exchange points at airports and hotels typically offer poorer rates than you might find in town. Find out in advance about licensed money changers at your destination.
  • Carry an empty water bottle with you. Refilling from water fountains or on the plane beats buying expensive bottled water.
  • Have your own pen within close reach. Flight attendants don’t usually have pens, so it’s a good idea to bring your own for filling out customs forms.
  • Don’t shy away from asking for free upgrades. Because you never know – you could be bumped to business class!
Ellen Griswold would have beaten her Christmas misery with's guides!
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christmas travel hacks

In flight hacks

  • Eat your own snacks. While some airlines frown at this practice, it’s wise to have some pre-arranged snacks in your carry-on luggage.
  • Walk. There are no rules against walking on planes (other than during takeoff, landing, turbulence and food/drink service, naturally).
  • Go easy on the free booze. Getting drunk in the air might feel like fun at the time, but it can give you a bad hangover (and worsen your jetlag) after you’ve touched down.
  • Ask to be moved to exit row. Sometimes there are empty seats; it never hurts to ask the flight attendant about those when you get on the plane.
  • Fill out customs forms before landing. This is where your pen will come in handy.

After you’ve touched down

  • Head straight to the carousel. There’s no use in dilly-dallying. Save time by collecting your luggage first thing upon arrival.
  • Save time in the customs line. Have your partner in a faster-moving queue and then join them as they move forward.
  • Keep left at security. As most people are right-handed, they will instinctively take the direction of their dominant hand. Hence there’s a good chance the lanes to your left will have less traffic.
  • Catch a cab at departures. As there’s often a large taxi line at the arrivals area, it’s a lot quicker to get a cab at the departures rank.
  • Compare the rates at different money changers in town. It’s like shopping for a bargain – don’t settle until you get the best rate.
  • Maintain the festive mood. You’ve made it to your destination and it’s Christmas time – you can now rejoice!

Fancy yourself as a Christmas travel expert? Share this story on Facebook and comment with your travel hacks!


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