Tips for Traveling During the Holidays

words and photography by Elyse Wild

If you are hopping on a plane to visit your nearest and dearest this holiday season, Tara Herndandez, Marketing Communications Director at Gerald R. Ford International Airport (GRR), has some helpful hints to make getting there a breeze!

Get to the Airport Early

“Arriving early is always my number one piece of advice,” Hernandez expressed. “Even if you are experienced and you travel all the time, there are just more people traveling during the holidays and things take longer.”

Arriving an hour and a half to two hours early is the safest bet. If you are bringing a significant amount of luggage or traveling with little ones, this gives you enough time to deal with unforeseen snags that may keep you from boarding your flight on time.

Occupy the Kids

“Be prepared with activities for your kids,” Hernandez advised. “If you have an i-Pad, it really helps to keep them occupied on the plane. Also, be aware of what snacks you can bring on the plane: Gold Fish, cereal and Chex Mix are great options.”

To help your kiddo blow off some pre-flight steam, GRR has coloring books and a play area. Once you board, Herndandez recommends narrating the process of the plane taking off.

“Making a game or going through a checklist and checking off the steps of boarding and taking off can really ease any anxieties they may have,” she suggested.

Leave it Unwrapped

While bearing gifts for your loved ones, forgo the wrapping paper until you reach your destination.

“Leave your gift unwrapped, whether you are transporting it in checked luggage or your carry-on,” Hernandez explained. “If there is something that needs to be checked, TSA has to unwrap them.”

Know What You Can Bring

It’s important to know what you can— and can’t bring—in your carry-on luggage. Liquids (which includes shampoo, conditioner and lotion) must be in a 3.4 ounce container, nail clippers are okay but scissors larger than four inches are not; the rules can get a little tricky. For instance, solid wax candles may be packed in carry-on bags, but gel-based candles must travel in checked luggage. And, given the world-renowned popularity of the Grand Rapids’ breweries, growlers and six-packs of the good stuff are popular items the staff at GRR sees people needing to transport.

Hernadez recommends visiting the TSA website ( or their Instragram (believe it or not) for those times when you just aren’t sure; post a picture of an item to @tsa, ask if you can board a plane with it and you will get in answer in no time.

“Knowing what you can and can’t bring will make things go a lot easier and faster for everyone,” Hernandez stated.

Pack Your Patience 

Hernandez says there is one essential element to stress-free air travel: patience.

“Not everyone is traveling for positive reasons,” she expressed. “Some people may be traveling to bury a loved one, or they may be getting deployed.”

If someone is having trouble and slowing you down while you make your way to the terminal, practice common courtesy and ask how you can help.

“We are all in this together,” Hernandez said. “Having patience will make for a much more enjoyable experience for everyone.”

When she is not editing for WLM, Elyse enjoys traveling to far off lands, enjoying live music, and practicing kung fu. She is also the owner of Your Story, a personal biography writing service for senior citizens.

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