Holiday Air Travel…Done Right!

A man looking at a toy planeIt’s about that time…to catch a plane to enjoy the holidays with family and friends.

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The Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s holiday periods are among the busiest long-distance travel periods of the year. During the 6-day Thanksgiving travel period, the number of long-distance trips (to and from a ­destination 50 miles or more away) increases by 54 percent, and during the Christmas/New Year’s Holiday period the number rises by 23 percent, compared to the average number for the remainder of the year.

What are the best ways to make sure your holiday travels are safe and problem-free?

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READ: The Top 7 Travel Illnesses

Here are some top holiday travel safety tips for you and your family:

Prepare & Plan. Be sure to plan ahead to anticipate or avoid any issues. Be aware of all TSA regulations that apply to you. Check the airline’s restrictions ahead of time on carry-on luggage and fees for checked bags. Arrive at the airport early to better deal with security and any unforeseen situations that may arise.

Connect. Upload your airline’s app before you leave home so that you can monitor your flight status.

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Pack. If possible, try to avoid checking bags. You won’t have to wait for your luggage…or deal with lost luggage. If checking your bag is unavoidable, make sure you have all your medications, glasses (or spare contacts and solution), important documents and a change of clothes in a carry-on – just in case your luggage does get lost.

Eat. Hunger does NOT help ease travel stress. Eat a healthy meal before you board the plane and pack a few healthy snacks (such as fruit or peanut butter and wheat crackers) so you won’t have to rely on airline food.

Drink…with Caution. According to an NBC report, the quality of water on airplanes isn’t always as safe as you might think.

“Problems with airlines are not uncommon,” says a spokesperson at the Food and Drug Administration’s San Francisco office.

For example, fecal coliform bacteria has been discovered in the water systems used to fill tanks on different airlines. New EPA data obtained through a Freedom of Information Act Request, shows in 2012, 12 percent of commercial airplanes in the U.S. had at least one positive test for coliform. That’s still just about one out of every 10 planes.

“I would say that’s still a high percentage,” said Bill Honker, deputy director of the Water Quality Protection Division, EPA Region 6, in Dallas.

Your best beverage bet? Don’t ask for coffee, tea or water on a plane. Instead, stick to enjoying a glass of vitamin-rich juice on the plane. Also, be sure to carry an empty water bottle with you that you can fill up at a water fountain before boarding your flight – or buy a bottle of water after you clear security.

READ: 4 Ways The Holidays Hurt Your Health

Travel Off-Peak. For example, the Wednesday before Thanksgiving is the biggest travel day of the year. Because of this, it can also cause greater amounts of stress. A better option is to fly on the actual holiday, or a few days before, to avoid long lines, hoards of travelers and potential headaches.

Travel Early/Travel Late. Flight statistics show that planes traveling earlier in the day have a better on-time performance. There will also be fewer lines at security. Plus, if your flight is cancelled, you will have the option of taking a flight later in the day.

READ: The Top 12 Healthy Travel Tips

Relax. Bring earplugs and an eye mask to help make your flight a little more comfortable.  Also, realize that no matter what you do, travel is travel, and there may be a situation that you simply can’t avoid, no matter what you do. Just breathe and get through it as best you can, and realize that any travel tribulations you have can make for great stories over dinner when you finally make it to your destination.

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