When temperatures drop and winter weather sends a few surprises your way, it is inevitable that there will be weather-related delays for business and leisure travelers. This can include slower traffic and/or delayed flights.
Plan ahead so that unexpected challenges are not so unexpected, and you will reduce stress and help ensure you make that flight or meeting.
Retail travel company, Travel Leaders Group, offers several tips to help ease the travel for those braving this year’s storms and frigid temperatures:
Book early. A knowledgeable travel agent can help you avoid peak travel dates and travel times. Even if you must travel within a certain range of dates, the time of day you travel can help cut down on the amount of time you sit in traffic. You may also want to avoid the first or last flight of the day, depending on the start and end time of the storm, since these flights have a higher frequency of being canceled.
Booking ground transportation in advance can also help take some of the stress off of your shoulders. When storms hit, cars can be scarce, so it’s always best to plan ahead.
Sign up for travel insurance. Often airlines will issue travel waivers that allow you to rebook your ticket away from the affected dates at no additional charge. You should take advantages of these when they post. In those instances where you may miss a flight because you were stuck in traffic or your flight was canceled or delayed, travel insurance can be your saving grace to recoup all or part of your travel investment.
Get travel advisories or weather alerts delivered to your phone. There are several apps that allow you to receive email or text message notifications from your airline about your flight’s status. A weather.com app can keep you updated on conditions. Some apps, designed specifically for business travelers, not only send text notifications about flight delays, cancellations or gate changes, but also allow you to reach live travel agents 24/7 to assist with flight disruptions or flight reservations.
Pack a winter safety kit. Whether you’re driving or flying, prepare for possible delays with a few essentials. Pack a small extra bag with an extra sweater, gloves, water and high-energy or high-protein foods such as granola bars or beef jerky – plus a toothbrush and toothpaste, a change of underwear and any needed prescription medications. A flashlight (w/extra batteries), phone charger, first aid kit and a good book are also worthwhile if you have the space.
Consider larger airports and travel light. If you suspect there may be severe weather threats during your time of travel, consider flying from a larger airport. Larger international airports will have a greater chance of more alternate flights, and they are also better equipped to clear runways faster or with de-icing of a plane. If you travel with only a carry-on, you’ll be in a better position to change flights quickly in the event of a cancellation.
Stay on the main roads. It’s always a good idea to stick to major highways or well-traveled roads. Not only are they likely to be plowed more quickly, there are other people who can come to your rescue easily should you need assistance. Try to travel during daylight hours, when car repair shops or convenience stores are more likely to be open. If you’re stranded in a vehicle for an extended period of time, run your engine for only a few minutes once or twice an hour to stay warm and conserve gas. While the car is running, be sure to slightly roll down a window to keep carbon monoxide from building up inside.