VIRGINIA BEACH — The roads, air and rails will be packed this holiday with travelers from all locations.
Whether you’re carrying gifts, carpooling to a family member’s house or finding the cheapest gas prices, holiday traveling can be an adventure — or a nightmare.
To help alleviate the stress, here are some travel tips from various agencies and government departments.
The Transportation Security Administration has released a list of helpful advice for those hitting the skies this season.
Many people will be traveling with their gifts for various loved ones, but while wrapped presents aren’t prohibited, the TSA suggests fliers keep presents unwrapped in case a gift needs to be inspected by officers. This will prevent hold-ups in line as well as needless re-wrapping for guests.
Holiday drinks from sparkling schnapps to peppermint martinis are popular this time of year, but the TSA also reminds travelers to pack these beverages in their checked luggage.
Just like any other time of year, if the drink has an alcohol content of 24 to 70 percent, they need to be in their original, unopened packaging and be under five liters.
AARP also has a few tips for air travel.
Travelers should reserve airport parking beforehand to save time trying to find a spot in full lots.
Arriving early for a flight will ensure on-time travel, and airport amenities make it more comfortable to do so. Most terminals offer a variety of shops, art exhibitions, and even spas to enjoy while waiting for a flight.
For travelers using the roadways to get to their holiday destinations, the Red Cross has several suggestions for a safer trip.
Drivers should have their car inspected before taking a long trip with the family. Winter driving can put a lot of stress on various parts of the car, and being aware of any issues can help prevent disaster.
The Red Cross also suggests packing an emergency supply kit, and checking the weather for planned travel routes before hitting the road.
While the holidays are a time for celebration, The American Red Cross says it is also extremely important to remember the dangers of driving under the influence. When placed in a situation where alcohol will be present, a designated driver should be selected to keep the roads safe.
Travel by train
Amtrak also released a few handy tips for train passengers during the holiday.
If passengers are planning to bring their gifts with them, Amtrak allows travelers 150 pounds of luggage without cost. For easy travel, passengers can place all clothes and toiletries in one travel bag, then presents in another.
To stay connected with loved ones while traveling, passengers should remember to bring a phone charger. Amtrak provides charging outlets on their trains as well as free Wi-Fi on select routes.
When making a packing list, don’t forget to bring a form of identification. This is necessary in case the conductor asks passengers for IDs during the trip, according to Amtrak.
Amtrak also suggests that travelers place ID tags on all luggage so they can easily identify their bags after arriving at their destination.
Safety is stressed for all forms of travel. For travel by train, it is important to be aware of surroundings and to stand back from the platform’s edge. It is dangerous to be too close to the edge when a train arrives.
The cost of holiday travel
Waiting until the last minute is not recommended when it comes to booking holiday travel.
Procrastinators shouldn’t panic too much, however, because there are still some deals to get people where they need to go.
Amtrak offers discounts for veterans, seniors and military year-round. These discounts can be applied to purchases no matter how close to the holiday.
Drivers should be prepared for a spike in gas prices during peak holiday travel, according to AAA. The national average price will rise throughout December to $2.47 this year, which is 28 cents more than in 2016.
It might be too late to stock up on gas before the price increase, but drivers can look forward to a predicted five-cent drop by the end of the year.
An up-to-date list of gas prices can be found online.
For those heading to the skies, deals are a bit more limited.
The cost of flights are expected to rise each day, but deals are still available on sites such as Expedia or Travelocity, according to their websites. A full list of flight information for the Richmond International Airport can be found online.
For parking before boarding a flight, travelers should make sure their cars are in the proper lot. Different lots have different rates depending on the length of time. If a car is parked incorrectly, the payment could be far greater than originally intended, according to the rates listed online.
Parking information and rates can be found on the airport’s website.
The holidays are one of the biggest travel times of the year, according to the TSA. With these tips, travelers can stay merry and bright while getting to their destination.
This story was originally published in our sister publication, WY Daily.
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