Ad Age Travel #PROTIPS

How Do You Survive Holiday Travel?

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The holidays are upon us. For many, that means heading out of town. We asked some road warriors: How do you navigate the busy travel months?

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Porter Gale- Former VP-marketing at Virgin America, author, speaker and startup adviser

On buying tickets: "A lot of airlines will go on sale on Monday. Or if one airline goes on sale on Monday, a lot of the others will follow on Tuesday. There's a lot of competitive pricing in the airline industry. This I learned working in airlines and not as a frequent traveler."

On pre-screening: "I am a member of the Clear program -- clearme.com. You get prescreened so that you can get through the TSA line faster. ... There's also a program called TSA Pre -- and you'd have to do this before the holiday season to get screened and cleared -- but you know that could save you 45 minutes waiting in a line."

Favorite airport/terminal: "Terminal Two at [San Francisco] -- it's amazing. It has incredible food, a yoga room, great artwork, organic food."

Rob Connors- Assistant VP-marketing for National/alamo

On airport attire: "I make all of the kids wear Crocs. You can slip them on and off easily. The 12- and nine-year-old don't have to now because the rules have changed, but they do it anyway."

On family travel essentials: "I have three kids … and I have a rule that each kid is responsible for packing their own backpacks with everything they need to entertain themselves. Whether it's iPhone or iPods … and they have to pack their chargers. And earphones. Earphones are important."

On road-trip entertainment: "We also get books on tape … Something that's appropriate for the family. … You can even get those for free or at the library. The kids end up getting into the story and saying 'Hey, can we put that book back on?' when we start driving again."

Mary Murcko– President National Sales for Gannett

"Traveling during the holidays can be a challenge. No matter if I'm traveling for business or with my family, I ascribe to the theory that less is more. Although, I have certain things I can't live without like my tablet loaded with my trusty USA TODAY app, great books and a few episodes of Homeland. All come in handy during the many inevitable airport delays the season brings."


Gay Gaddis– CEO, T-3

On pre-screening: "I just did the work to get my global entry card. You're pre-approved for the TSA. I can keep my shoes on and not take everything out of luggage. ... You don't have to rip all of your clothes off."

On carry-ons: "The greatest thing you can do is get a really good bag to use as a carry-on. I have a Samsonite black-label bag with wheels that turn all the way around. It looks small but it's a bottomless pit. It's not a fancy thing but it looks good. I've had it four years and it's been beat up, but it's still here."

On pre-packing: "My daughter is a personal stylist, so she'll come over and we'll pull seasonal looks from my closet and put them aside. I have a separate rack for travel packing. We'll leave some things that are too heavy and then mix it up and match it. She takes pictures to see what they look like so I can make sure I haven't left behind the right shoes. So when the car comes, you're ready to go. Don't let stress impact your dress."

Pilar Guzman- Editor-in-chief, Condé Nast Traveler

On travel dates: "We do Christmas morning at home and then jump on a plane. No one -- or barely anyone -- travels on Christmas Day. Or travel that night and have the whole day. Same with New Year's."

On over-booked flights: "Flights also get overbooked, so to avoid getting bumped, get to the airport two hours ahead for domestic flights and three hours ahead for international. It seem like a lot, but an extra hour won't kill you."

"If you get bumped, you're entitled to money. It's in the passenger bill of rights. And the longer it takes to rebook, the more you're entitled to. It doesn't completely heal the wound, but…"

On packing: "There's always an element of fantasy to packing for vacation. People get ambitious about the fantasy vs. the reality. I always go with minimal. Black jeans go a long way. You can change the shirt and the shoes to reinvent it."

Amy Curtis-McIntyre– VP-marketing at Airbnb

On family road trips: "I'm one of eight kids so I dug deep into my nostalgic childhood for games my dad played with us. So we'll play 'I'm going on a trip and I'm bringing…' until we get through the alphabet."

On airports: "Terminal 5 at JFK -- I was still with JetBlue when they broke ground on it. It has a lot of food options and great shopping."

"I love Hong Kong's airport. I could live there, it's so beautiful. Cathay Lounge is the nicest hotel you'll ever stay in."

"O'Hare is one of the ones that gets a bad rap, but it has the cleanest bathrooms. The toilet bowls are some of the only ones to still have the rotating plastic toilet seat covers."

"Victoria Falls airport in Zimbabwe. It's funny. It's pretty much a runway with a garage next to it."

Liz Ross- President, North America at BPN

On airport downtime: "I have my list of Christmas gifts. I order most of them online, so whenever I have a bit of downtime at the airport I just start clicking things off so I don't have to worry about them when I get home."

On airport amenities: "I've started looking for airports with express spas. So if your flight's delayed or you have a few hours to kill you can get a manicure or pedicure. It's an unexpected indulgence… Some people feel weird about getting a pedicure in the middle of an airport, but once you're in that chair you'll forget all about it."

On packing: "I keep a bag packed, always. I have doubles of everything: my makeup case, blow dryer and hair straightener."

Kirsten Flanik- managing director at BBDO

On gifts/packing: "My No. 1 tip is FedEx your gifts ahead of time so you don't have to travel with them. And if you have any sports equipment like golf clubs or if you're going skiing, basically ship that too ... I don't think people realize how easy it is, how convenient it is and how cost-effective it is, because now if you're checking all of your bags, what you pay to check them can be crazy."

On changing climates: "If you're going to an entirely different climate and can't check into the hotel right away, pack a change of clothes in a small carry-on for you and your family to change."

On getting to the airport: "I just try to time it so that when I get there, I've already checked in online, I don't have to check my bags, I know that it's going to take X amount of time to get through the security line … and then just go straight to the gate and get on your plane."

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