Holiday “Travel Hacks” From The Experts

With the Holiday Season in full swing, we thought it might be fun to have our Cornerstone family share some of their favorite travel hacks, tips, and tricks with you this week. Not only do we handle travel data for major global travel agencies … but many of us are veteran travelers ourselves!

Whether it’s advice for short domestic hops or long international hauls, hopefully these can help turn your holiday travel from a dreaded ordeal into a pleasant journey:

Arrive At the Airport Early

  • Arrive early for flights  – Jim
  • Save your sanity and allow plenty of extra time – Laurie
  • Get to the airport earlier than you think you need too – Amy
  • Seems like common sense, but arrive at the airport early and ensure your phone is fully charged. Charging ports always seem to be at a premium  – Bobbi
  • Make sure you allow for extra time getting through security so you’re not short on time getting to your flight – Sheri

Download the Airline’s App Before You Go

  • If flying, download the airline’s app.  Use it for your boarding pass, tracking bags, maps at airports, schedule changes, etc – Amy
  • You can also download an app to check airport security lines and wait times – Amy
  • If you’re tech savvy, download the airline app to your phone so you can use that for flight updates, boarding passes, and general airport information – Sheri

Plan, Plan, Plan, and Remain both Flexible and Vigilant Until You Arrive

  • Prepare for (and expect) delays. Also, have a backup plan if a flight cancelled or delayed  – Jim
  • I would also say avoid weekend travel, especially when Christmas is on a Tuesday or Wednesday  – Laurie
  • Fly as early in the day as possible – more time for re-routing, if needed  – Shaun
  • Keep an eye on your flight status. Even if weather is not a factor in your area, there could be a domino effect, especially if you have connecting flights – Jodi
  • Make sure to check your flight status prior to going to the airport – Sheri
  • Remember your cell phone charger and perhaps also bring a charging pack. You don’t want to be low on power if you have to communicate with relatives or use an Uber – Nick
  • Clear storage space in your cell phone, so you can take plenty of pictures and videos – Nick

Packing Light and Smart

  • When packing, use “Travel Cubes”.  They save space, are easy to unpack, and make it easy to keep things organized. Plus you can use a cube for dirty clothes while you are traveling – Amy
  • Use packing bags in order to organize your clothes.  They save you space in your bag and keep things from getting wrinkled. It also helps stay organized and ready to go home or to your next destination – Mat
  • Use a small craft organizer box to pack jewelry.  Cheap, adjustable, and keeps items separate – Holly
  • Keep all required medications on you and not in your luggage, just in case your luggage gets lost – Sheri
  • Before you travel, buy two (2) of every hygiene item you use and create a travel hygiene bag.  Then you have your travel bag ready at all times and don’t have to worry about the hassle of getting all the hygiene essentials at the last minute.  Having this grab and go takes a little stress off of the packing day – Jenny
  • Binder clip your razors.  When grabbing for items in your beauty bag, don’t get cut by your razor.  Place binder clip on the blade side and protect yourself from a nasty cut when in a rush searching for something – Jenny
  • Don’t over pack!  The less you have to carry, the easier you will be able to maneuver through airports and be able to keep your carry-on luggage with you – Sheri
  • Bring a charger in your carry-on! – Amy

Looking The Part

  • Dressing nicely will surprisingly save you trouble. Plus dress shoes are easier to take off to put through the x-ray – Marco
  • When traveling abroad, try not to look like a tourist or someone that doesn’t belong.  Do your research and try to fit in vs. stand-out. The best way to do this is to look at pictures on the internet of how people dress. Get familiar on Google Maps where you are staying and local landmarks.  Know the general way from the airport to your hotel – Mat
  • If you’re traveling alone, dressed nicely, and wearing your smile, don’t be afraid to ask for an upgrade. The gate people will be far more likely to upgrade someone who looks responsible and who looks easy and pleasant to deal with – Lierin

Pack Your Smile, and Don’t Be Afraid  to Ask For That Upgrade or For Other Help From Gate Agents

  • ​If you’re running late, ask at the gate if they can help in any way. It only worked once, but I was dressed nicely and they took me on one of those golf carts between the airport walls all the way to my gate – Marco
  • Bring extra patience (and kindness)! – Laurie
  • The Gate Agent is your best friend, or your worst enemy; be nice to them – Shaun
  • Smile – everyone is in the same boat … and, thank the various workers you encounter because they’re working during the holidays so you can travel  – Shaun

Don’t Check A Bag If You Can Help It

  • When flying, avoid checking any bags if you can. It makes it easier for airline staff to help you change flights if necessary. They often give a visible sigh of relief when they learn there are no checked bags to deal with! – Nick
  • Try not to check any bags. Do you know how much airlines make in just baggage fees? It’s crazy! Besides, you can fit a lot in a purse, laptop case, and a carry-on. If you MUST, it’s probably cheaper to ship other stuff to your destination than to check it on the plane – Lierin

Getting Through Security Hack? – Bring An Empty Water Bottle!

  • I always take my empty water bottle through the security check and fill it up at filling station after security. Saves you from buying an overpriced bottle of water! – Lauren
  • Bring reusable water-bottles. (Empty until you get through TSA) They can always be re-filled, and you don’t have to buy water at the airport – Amy
  • Make sure you review the TSA requirements prior to going to the airport.  It will help you speed through security – Sheri

Once You Arrive

  • Jetlag is a strange beast. Most people that can sleep on the plane do so. But if you can’t, which is common, it’s really best to just get there and essentially sleep from when you land to when you should be waking up the following day. That can be a few hours to something like 20 hours. That’s how I used to get adjusted flying so much from Italy to Brazil and back  – Marco
  • Shop for groceries when you arrive and are settled at your destination.  Getting the basics like water and a few snacks in local stores instead of at the hotel can save you a ton of money – Mat
  • Uber vs. Lyft vs. Gett (taxi).  There are a ton of services for ride sharing  There is a HUGE difference in pricing for airport runs.  Check all three and save money – Mat
  • Make sure you have something that stands out on your luggage so it’s easily identified coming off the baggage claim – Sheri
  • Put identification inside your checked luggage so in case the exterior identification tag gets lost, your luggage can still be identified – Sheri

Other Invaluable Tips From Seasoned Cornerstone Travelers:

  • Bring a rubix cube. Maybe odd, sure, but showing a stewardess how to solve my rubix cube paid for a sandwich on a flight once – Marco
  • Save on international data and cell phone charges.  Upgrade your phone so you can use e-sim technology. I am really loving the GSMA e-sim providers that can save you a ton like and – Mat
  • Don’t pay international costs for your cell phone. There are so many other ways to call people. Get a “call through the internet” app. Use Facebook, Snapchat, Skype, whatever you want. My husband and I would pay for Skype minutes whenever he had to go to Italy. Did you know you could use Skype from a Playstation Portable? Neither did I! – Lierin
  • Keep a pen/ pencil or crayon handy to draw or play tic-tac-toe with the kids – Bobbi
  • Not just for the holidays ….. but keep a journal or take pics of the labels from wines you enjoyed when traveling so you can remember them when you get back home – Bobbi
  • Pack an extra holiday card with an Amazon gift card. There may be someone at your celebration that you weren’t expecting, and you won’t want to be empty-handed at gift-giving time! – Nick

And the best Holiday Travel Hack comes from our very own St Nick!: 

  • When traveling by reindeer sleigh, be cognizant of foggy weather conditions. Proper lighting is important, so arrange your team of reindeer accordingly – St. Nick

Although, we have to say that there is one Cornerstone employee who seems to have beaten holiday travel altogether!

My ‘Holiday Travel Hack’:  I tell people I’ll cook the meals if they travel to me instead – Josh

But unless you’re lucky enough to be the actual “holiday destination” like Josh, we hope these travel tips and tricks can help make your holiday a little less stressful and a little more bright!

Happiest of Holidays and Brightest of New Years from our Cornerstone family to you and your own!

Holiday “Travel Hacks” From The Experts