- Check in online and print your boarding passes before you hit the airport. You'll save yourself much anguish and waiting by doing so, it's hard to believe everyone doesn't do this. As a backup, you can check in at computer kiosks at the airport, just make sure you brought proper id and the credit card you bought the ticket with.
- Pack a soft-sided bag and backpack. If there's any way to avoid checking baggage, you'll not only save money, you'll save headache from excessive lines and heartache if your bag goes missing, which happens exponentially at this time of year. Soft-sided bags will fit more easily on board (either overhead or under your seat) under tight constraints.
- Pack a survival kit. If you get delayed, or your bag goes missing, make sure you have supplies you'd want if you were stuck at the airport for a few hours and/or stuff at your destination if your bag doesn't make it. Whatever you need to feel happy: music, podcasts, magazines, a good book, clean underwear, baby supplies, toiletries you name it.
- Dress for the search. Dress however you need to get through security quickly and stress-free, which means comfy clothes, slip on shoes, no belt, empty pockets, etc.
- Feed yourself. It's every man for himself getting something to eat on flights these days, so be sure you've got good energy-maintaining snacks like nature bars or nuts and be prepared for delays.
- Pack beauty minis. No face cream is worth the pain of checking a bag because it exceeds the liquid allowance. Stick with putting beauty minis in a Ziplock, even if they're not your fave products.
- Leave extra time. Don't push the recommended arrival time printed on your ticket. Flights are oversold and they WILL give your seat away, even if you've checked in online. Leave yourself plenty of time to get through security and get to your gate.
Photo: Jasleen Kaur via Flickr