Christmas travel tips before you head out the door

The presents are purchased and the suitcases are packed. You’ve printed out your e-ticket or perhaps checked the oil one last time before packing the kids in the car. Over the next two days millions of Americans will criss-cross the country to spend Christmas with friends and family. Preparation reduces the travel stress level anytime and this week is perhaps the most critical of all. Before you even head out the door, reserve your parking spot to avoid the nightmare scenario of circling a packed a lot as the minutes tick away before your departure. Sites such as airportparkingreservations.com can help eliminate these concerns. One helpful reminder posted by Dana Arquilla with digtriad.com is to leave presents you are carrying on a plane unwrapped since TSA officials are allowed to inspect anything inside packages. Similarly, take into account what you are bringing as a gift. Because of weight restrictions and baggage charges in many case it may be cheaper, even at this late date, to ship packages ahead of your arrival as opposed to paying for them to be loaded on to the plane. Once in the airport checking flight information is critical. Sites such as flightstats.com can provide information straight from the FAA, saving valuable minutes before the messages are relayed and posted on terminal monitors. Downloadable apps for smart phones to check status are also common. In order to make checking the status – or responding to those last work-related e-mails before jetting off – Google is offering free Wi-Fi access at 54 U.S. airports through Jan. 15. If you’re loading everyone up in the van to drive a few hours to get to grandma’s house, some basic winter car care tips are in order. Checking the anti-freeze level and battery are always advisable, including changing grades of oil if you have the time. A fresh set of wiper blades to battle snow and ice are helpful. So, too, is a quick check in the trunk to make sure the ice scraper you haven’t used in 10 months is still there and if isn’t too worn down to get the job done. Having a first-aid kit and bottled water available are good ideas regardless of what time of the year it is. It’s particularly important if you end up stranded in the snow and need to wait for already busy police officers or wrecker services to get to you. Links: Online holiday travel trips to make your trip merry: http://www.digtriad.com/news/local/article.aspx?storyid=134745&catid=57 14 ways to survive a holiday flight: http://www.cnn.com/2009/TRAVEL/traveltips/12/17/holiday.flight.survival/index.html Airport parking: http://www.airportparkingreservations.com/ Flight Stats: http://www.flightstats.com/go/Home/home.do Google free Wi-Fi: http://www.freeholidaywifi.com/faq/ 10 simple ways to get your car ready for winter: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/15940164/ Winter car care and safe driving tips: http://www.winter-car-care.com/index.html

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