Tech Tips

Hack Your Holiday Travel with These Tech Tricks

It’s easy to feel good about travel in May, when flights are likelier to depart on time and the highways are uncongested. It’s holiday travel—especially Thanksgiving weekend—that separates the truly travel savvy from the amateurs.

With these tips, you’ll be the savviest traveler in the train, plane, or automobile.

We’ve divided our advice into two categories: High-Tech Tips, where you’ll find the best travel-related apps (all free for iOS and Android) and quick fixes to keep yourself sane and organized during the busiest travel holiday of the year; and Low-Tech Tips, where you’ll get a rundown of awesome travel hacks that do not require a Wi-Fi connection.

High-Tech Tips

  1. When you’re planning a flight, check out Seat Guru (Android and iOS) before you choose your seat. The app knows all the details about individual airplanes—like which seats can’t recline or are annoyingly close to the galley.
  2. GateGuru (Android and iOS) tracks flight times and gate locations, but it also throws in airport weather patterns and airport amenities near your gate.
  3. iFly Airport Guide (Android and iOS) is another app that gives users a hearty rundown of individual airport information.
  4. But remember, if you just want to know whether your flight is running on time, there’s always Google,  just type your airline name and flight number into the search box to see if you’re on time or delayed.
  5. If your flight is cancelled or delayed, or the airline misplaced your luggage, it’s not a bad idea to know exactly what you’re entitled to or assistance the airline must provide. Check out the Department of Travel Fly Rights page. You may even want to save the info on your phone in case you need it when you don’t have an Internet connection.
  6. Of course, nothing provides a quick shot of travel-related stress like being told by a TSA that your nail clippers or bottled water will be confiscated. The app My TSA (Android and iOS) tells you what you can take through security, as well as security wait times.
  7. Flight cancelled? Or maybe you’re driving and decide to stop for the night instead of pushing on through? Try HotelTonight (Android and iOS), which specializes in last-minute hotel bookings and (possible) deals.
  8. When you’re on the road and away from your regular Wifi networks, you can still find free networks on the road. Check out FourSquare (Android and iOS) to find passwords to nearby free Wifi networks—other app users often share them in the comments on the coffee shop or restaurant. Or try WiFi Finder (Android and iOS) to locate Wi-Fi hotspots in your immediate area, including ones that are in a network you’re subscribed to.

Low-Tech Lessons

  1. If you want to avoid the worst of the crush, and your family can stand to wait, fly on the actual holiday. There’s a huge difference in passenger volume between Wednesday and Thursday on Thanksgiving week.
  2. Have you ever had a phone charger cord fray and come apart? Packing and unpacking your cords and chargers makes this much more likely. Protect your charger chords by taking the spring from a pen and wrapping it around the ends, which most likely to fray.
  3. Protect yourself by dressing in layers. No matter what temperature the plane is, or how hot Grandma likes to keep her house, you’ll be prepared. And remember that planes, trains, and your relatives are sharing extra germs this holiday season—so be sure to get a flu shot before you travel for the holidays.
  4. If you’re bringing gifts, do yourself a favor and wait to wrap your gifts when you arrive at your destination, whether you’re flying and going through TSA, or just bumping them around in the car.

We hope these tips reduce your stress and make your holiday travel season the smoothest ever!