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  • Maggie Wallem Rowe

Traveling for the Holidays? Maggie’s Top Ten Tips

Anyone going aloft in the next six weeks? Maybe you’ll be joining family for Thanksgiving, or you’ve booked a flight for Christmas or New Year’s.

Could you use some tested travel tips from a 40-year air warrior?

I’ve been on nine different flights in the past month. As I hurried through Boston’s Logan airport this past Saturday, I made a few mental notes for my next trip. Maybe these tips will ease the stress of travel over the coming holidays just a bit for you, too.

But first, an especially warm welcome to my sisters from the Redbud Writers Guild whom I met recently at our Chicagoland retreat, and hugs-all-around to old and new friends from our gathering at Osterville Baptist on Cape Cod last week. I loved being with you!

Before you take your next trip, here are a few things I’ve learned the hard way:

1. Pack Light

OK, shouldn’t I tell you something you don’t already know? Seriously, whether you’ll be away overnight or for several weeks, you really can fit everything you need into a carry-on bag.

Wear comfortable walking shoes and take only one extra pair like black flats that go with everything. Pack half the undergarments you think you need and tuck panty liners in your purse instead (helpful for overnight travel).

When I was at BWI last week, the flight departing the gate adjacent to mine was oversold. The gate attendant grew increasingly desperate to find three volunteers who would accept $800 in travel credit plus a refund of their airfare in exchange for a flight four hours later.

If you have wiggle room in your arrival time and you haven’t checked bags, you can snag great deals like this!

2. Take snacks and an empty water bottle

We all know that post-9/11, passengers can no longer carry liquids through security, but be sure to take an empty water bottle with you to fill once you get through TSA checkpoints.

No need to pay $3 or more for a dime’s worth of hydration. Purchase energy bars or bags of nuts before you leave home to avoid paying inflated airport prices. If your flight is delayed on the tarmac, you’ll need those snacks.

3. Don’t forget your headphones or earbuds

Now that travelers can access free entertainment online through a carrier’s Wi-Fi, many newer planes no longer have screens in the seatbacks. They don’t usually provide earbuds either.

Be sure to take your own if you want to listen to music, watch a movie, or work with your laptop. I also prefer wearing a travel vest with deep pockets when I fly so that my phone, earbuds, boarding pass, and ID are in easy reach.

4. Set your alarm to check-in 24 hours in advance

If you fly Southwest or another airline without assigned seats, be sure to check in 24 hours in advance to get the best boarding number. You can pay to upgrade to A 1-15, but why spend the extra money? If you check-in as far ahead as possible, you’ll board later in A or at the very worst in the B group where you’re certain to find overhead space for your carry-on, plus a window or aisle seat.

5. Smile and greet the flight crew

I’m amazed at how many passengers, eager to board, totally ignore the flight attendant assigned to greet us. We can make their jobs a little easier by consulting the card in the seat pocket for beverage selections so they don’t have to repeat the menu each time. I like to thank them as I deplane as well. They handle difficult situations every day.

6. Limited space? Tie one on!

If your carry-on bag is stuffed and you need hikers or bulky sneakers, tie them onto your backpack to stow beneath the seat in front of you. And don’t forget your mask. They’re no longer required but might give you peace of mind if passengers around you are coughing.

7. Make your bags stand out

We all know we should tie bright ribbons on the handles of our bags to make them easier to identify, but surprisingly few travelers take this step. Trust me on this: those bags really do look alike coming off the conveyer belt.

8. Check that overhead bin

Flight attendants remind us of this so often we stop listening. If you do leave an item in an overhead compartment, file an online report with the air carrier as soon as you reach your destination. Even if it was taken off the flight at the airport where you deplaned, the facility’s Lost and Found desk doesn’t collect items left on board.

Better yet, don’t forget that you put your favorite Norwegian wool sweater-jacket up there in the first place like I did last month!

The sweater-jacket that vanished after I left it in an overhead bin on American Airlines in October. :(

9. Get TSA PreCheck®

For $85 (which some airlines will reimburse if you hold their credit card), and a brief interview, you can bypass long lines at security and breeze right on through without taking off your shoes or jacket, unpacking toiletries, or removing your laptop. I’m grateful to have that TSA Pre-check notice on my boarding passes. Good for five years! To apply, visit here.

10. Enter airline phone #s into your Contact list

In the event of a last-minute flight cancellation, you’ll be standing in line with dozens – potentially hundreds – of others to rebook. It’s generally better to call the airlines directly. Even if they put you on hold while you wait in line, you’ll have two options for assistance. And won’t you be happy you only brought a carry-on bag!

What are some of your favorite travel tips? Please share them with the rest of us.

Whether you travel to the store or across the country – by road, sea, or air – may you be surrounded by the good grace of our loving God on the journey.

And as we gather around tables this week with grateful hearts,

“Let us be moved to speak such meaningful words as ought to be spoken among family and friends. Let us linger long at tables and drink deeply of one another’s company, enjoying each for who they are with the steady pressures of our ordinary days now lifted.” – Douglas McKelvey, Every Moment Holy

Friends, I am grateful for YOU.



SALE! If you’d like to purchase books or Bibles as Christmas gifts, Tyndale House and NavPress are having their biggest sale of the year this weekend. (Both This Life We Share and Life is Sweet,Y’all are available at 50% off. ) Visit here.

P.S. If your church or group is planning an event in 2023, I'd be honored to serve you! Simply reply to this email or CLICK HERE for more information.


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