The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus


To grandmother’s house we’ll try to go

How to survive holiday traveling

Layovers, weather delays, lost luggage, closed highways. These things can make a trip home for the holidays a nightmare, causing the holiday to get off to a bad start. Planning ahead for the problems that may be encountered can ensure a low-hassle trip.

Traveling during the holidays often resembles a Chevy Chase movie. Angela Peña, a sophomore broadcast journalism major, remembers one trip back to SMU from her home in Houston lasting six hours instead of the normal three to four. “The traffic was a nightmare.” Peña said. But whether traveling by plane, train or automobile, there is a plethora of travel tips available for the weary traveler.


By Air

According to the American Automobile Association, roughly 4.6 million Americans traveled by air over Thanksgiving last year. That number is expected to increase slightly this year. With that said, there are many ways to get through a crowded airport quickly and effectively.

Check flight status and check-in before you leave. Most airlines list flight statuses on their Web sites, enabling the traveler to plan enough time to get to the airport and through security. Many airline Web sites also allow travelers to check-in online up to 24 hours before the departure time, saving the traveler time of standing in line at the ticket counter.

Arrive at the airport early. Fodors, a travel book publisher, recommends arriving at the airport 90 minutes before a domestic flight. Since security for international flights can be stricter, arriving two hours ahead of time is recommended.

Carry-on luggage saves time. If possible, only bring carry-on luggage. It will save time at the ticket counter and can help the traveler avoid a wait at the baggage claim. All cameras and undeveloped film should be in the carry-on as they will be damaged by the screening machines used for checked luggage. All valuables should also be in carry-on luggage.

Know what the “prohibited items” are. Many airlines are cracking down on items such as tweezers, razors and knitting needles in carry-on luggage. American Airlines recommends packing such prohibited items in checked baggage or leaving them at home. Most airlines’ Web sites have a list of items not allowed on flights.

Keep identification easily accessible until the plane has been boarded. Travelers are now asked for their IDs at every turn at airports, and having it ready can save time and hassle.

Gift-wrap presents at destination. Wrapped presents are often unwrapped by security.

Stay close to the gate. Announcements concerning delays and gate changes are made at the gate, ensuring that everyone affected gets the correct information.

Eat before the flight. Many airlines are cutting costs by having “beverage only” service, even on longer flights. Most airports have food courts where travelers can eat before the flight. Fodors recommends bringing along packaged food for the flight.

Traveling by air during the holidays can be stressful but being prepared can help ensure a hassle-free experience.


By Car

Holidays are one of the prime times for families to visit each other by car. Add in bad weather, and car trips can seem endless. While many problems can’t be avoided, there are some steps that can be taken to make the trip quick and painless.

Don’t travel on “peak” days. The day before and after a holiday are the most crowded on U.S. roads. Planning around those days can result in a much faster trip.

Check weather and traffic conditions. The last thing anyone wants is to be caught in a blizzard or three-mile traffic jam on their way to a turkey dinner. Checking the weather and traffic for the destination and the route taken there, can enable the traveler to plan for any problems.

Check for road closings. Due to construction and bad weather, road can close unexpectedly. AAA Web site offers a “Triptik” function that will map out the entire route of a trip and take into account road closings. The U.S. Federal Highway Administration’s Web site lists road closings by state, allowing the traveler to plan for detours.

Flexibility is the key when traveling by car. Stopping for food (or shopping) is inevitable. Allowing a flexible time frame can make the trip much less stressful.


By Train

Many travelers enjoy train travel because it allows them to see the country without the hassle of driving. Train travel can be efficient since traffic is not usually an issue. The main tip that Amtrak offers its customers is to check baggage restrictions. No one wants to be surprised at the station by being told that they can’t check any luggage.


By Bus

Traveling by bus is the least constraining in terms of security. The only restriction Greyhound enforces is the weight of baggage, which can be no more than 60 pounds. Greyhound advises that travelers keep valuables on board the bus rather than stowing them with the baggage below.


While all of the rules and restrictions surrounding travel can seem like a hassle, one must keep the destination in mind. Amy Distel, sophomore theater major, said, “Even with all the craziness at the airports, its great to know that I’m going home and getting a break from school.”

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