Holiday Travel Survival Tips

by Ilona Kauremszky
Winter 2009

Stress Free Holidays

This is the busiest time of year on the travel calendar. So how do you survive the stresses?

1. Advance Online Check-in 24 hours prior to Departure
To avoid the long line-ups try checking-in online at home. But before you actually book your seat, go to seatguru in advance and find out what airline you will be travelling on and make a list of seats that look appealing to you. This way you’ve done your homework and can better determine where you wish to sit. Often times, the airline will have pre-assigned you a seat which depending on the flight capacity, you might be able to switch.

The point about online check-in is you can only do this 24 hours in advance.

2. Check Flight Times Before You Leave Home
Visit gtaa, the Toronto Pearson International Airport schedule

3. Smart Packing
This is a big issue especially with gifts and things. Remember gift wrapping a present does not in any way mean your gift will be exempt from Custom searches. It’s quite the opposite. Everything needs to be transparent, making the Custom officials do their job faster.

Make sure your carry-on luggage is within restricted liquid limits. Remember the Liquids and 3-1-1 Rule. “That's any number of 3oz (or 100ml) or less of any 1 type of liquid, all of which must fit inside 1 plastic zip-lock bag. You can pick up empty refill bottles or travel-sized toiletries from drug stores or hold on to the tiny toiletries from hotel rooms.”

For rules on packing requirements visit either the web site or from Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada or CATSA, the Canadian Airport Transport Security and Authority.

The CATSA has a handy “Pack Smart” list you can check which has a complete item list or a search engine you can use if you are not sure of some of your items.

Packing oversized objects like skis, a snowboard. Check with your airline on this. You might find it’s better to leave your skis and snowboard at home. If you’re planning a short ski trip many of these resorts are fully equipped for rentals. And if they don’t rent there will be a local tour operator nearby who could.

4. Arrive to the Airport Early
If you have an early morning departure overnight in a hotel near the airport.

5.Getting to the Airport
Leave the car at home if you can. The TTC actually has a #192 Airport Rocket which is an express bus to the airport from Kipling Station. For the price of a TTC ticket you won’t need to worry about the parking.

6. Check-in Luggage
Check-in only one bag if possible. Even better if you can travel light and carry on all your belongings. Go to for all the handy info.

7. Airport Security
Make sure you have all your documents and forms on hand at all times. You want to dress without hassle as you’ll have to remove clothing and shoes. TripAtlas has come up with an easy Tip Sheet you can download online. It’s called Secrets to Getting Through Airport Security. The CATSE publishes a list online titled “Speed up screening” on how to manage your bins, understanding the physical search and more.

8. Keep Hydrated and Eat Properly
Pack healthy snacks, lunches for flights as most airlines with the exception of international flights no longer offer complimentary food.

9. Coping with Kids
Thankfully most of the holiday travel will be short haul flights under four hours. But if you find you’ve got connecting flights or will be on a long haul, be prepared. In both cases, parents should pack toys, treats and try to keep kids under control. Other passengers will love you for it. Things like being mindful of your child kicking the seat in front of them or pulling a passenger’s hair etc…

10. Medications
Some travellers need their prescriptions. Just make sure you pack this in your personal belongings and have the necessary documentation ready to show the Customs officials. The pills should also be in their original labeled bottle.

11. Stay Healthy
You want to be mindful of germs. You can pack small packets 100 ml (trial sizes) or less of hand sanitizer for the plane and remember to keep your hands away from your mouth, eyes and nose. To help you survive holiday travel, cheapflights has a handy Top 10 list of “Things To Keep In Your Hand Luggage To Keep You Healthy.” you can read it on their web site.

The list includes: taking an inflatable neck pillow and using your coat as a blanket. Many airlines are no longer providing pillows or even blankets. Antibacterial wipes to wipe down your seat area like the tray and TV monitor. Also carry fizzy Vitamin C tablets. They dissolve in water and can be taken during your flight.

12. Talk to your Travel Agent
Travel agents have a wealth of knowledge about your destination and your flight booking.

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