The Joy of Winter Travel

Posted January 7, 2009 by Carl Unger

ContinentalaircraftinsnoThere's much to love about winter: the soundless cascade of snow outside your window, a weekend of skiing in the mountains, the childlike glee you feel when your office closes early due to weather. But there isn't much to love about winter travel, particularly if you're heading to or departing from a snowy locale. Who among us enjoys lugging a suitcase through ankle-deep slush or waiting in the airport as flights are delayed or canceled altogether? Despite these annoyances, there are some things you can do to make traveling in the winter a less stressful experience.

First, if bad weather is heading your way, check your airline's website (or call) to see if it will waive change fees during the storm. Most airlines will allow you to reschedule for free if weather is going to impact your itinerary (Continental did just this recently). If you're flexible, this will allow you to push off your travels until the storm has passed.

Second, pack wisely and think small, especially if you're heading to a cold-weather destination. Remember: Winter clothes, such as sweaters and heavy coats, are generally big and bulky. Dress in layers, bring warm socks, compress everything, and you may get it all into one suitcase (or even a carry-on!).

Third, arrive at the airport early. Yeah, you may spend an hour or two sitting around, but better to be early in case your flight is canceled or otherwise affected by weather. If you're worried about being bored, bring a book (preferably a long one—Anna Karenina should do the trick).

Winter travel doesn't have to be a nightmare, but let's face it: The chances are pretty good that it will be a nightmare, meaning preparation is key to maintaining your sanity. Take these tips, add a healthy dash of patience into the mix, and you should be OK.


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