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10 Holiday Season Airport & Flight Hacks To Make Travel Less Stressful

If you love the holidays but hate holiday travel, these 10 hacks will make things more bearable.

Travel

Although I've seen a good chunk of the world at this point, unlike a lot of the xoTribe team, travel isn't really my thing. My mother says it's because I'm a writer and heavy thinker who tends to travel a lot in my head. There's probably some truth to that, but the bigger issue is I hate what comes with travel. Packing. Paying hundreds for tickets. Crowded airports. Ugh. But since teleporting isn't something that any of us are able to do, when we want to get somewhere as quickly as possible, airplanes are pretty much our best bet.

If every year, you tell yourself that you aren't going to wait until the last minute to make your travel plans but here you are, with only a few days before the holiday travel season officially begins, no worries. I've got some tips that can make finding flights and traveling in general a lot easier and a heck of a lot less stressful. Consider it an early Christmas present from all of us here at xoNecole—to you.

1. Be Flexible When Booking Flights

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I'll be honest. In order to get the best deal, the best time to look for flights is about 6-8 weeks before you need to head out (which means this is the week to book your Christmas ticket, if you can). But, if you're like me and you always tend to wait until the last minute, flexibility is what you need in order to get a good rate. As far as Thanksgiving goes, tickets are usually the cheapest on the Monday prior to Thanksgiving (this year, that would be the 25th), on Thanksgiving (the 28th), or on Black Friday (the 29th). As far as Christmas goes, your best bet is Christmas Eve (the 24th), Christmas Day (the 25th) or the Saturday following Christmas (which on this year is the 28th).

When it comes to other flexibility tips that could save you some coins—be open to mixing and matching airlines (one airline for departing and another for coming back); be willing to not always fly direct (layovers can be annoying, but they are also pretty cost-effective); test out budget carriers like Southwest, Spirit or Frontier (US), Eurowings (Europe) or Swoop (Canada), and look for tickets that leave super early in the morning or really late at night—they are always gonna be cheaper than "standard business hour" tickets.

Oh, and if you're curious about what the worst holiday travel dates are, click here for a breakdown of those. Try and avoid those at all costs.

2. Look for Tickets in Other Currencies

Here's a hack that might trip you out. If you've done your fair share of international traveling before, you probably know that some countries have a strong currency while other countries do not. One way to save money on your flights (especially international ones) is to look for tickets that are listed under a lower currency than the American dollar. For instance, if you want to go to New York for Christmas, check to see what the price would be for a ticket via a site from another country (you can compare currency exchange rates here). While an American airline might list a ticket for $800, an Indonesian or New Zealand version of the same site could list the price for what translates into being half of that in American dollars.

While this isn't an automatic hack, it's certainly worth trying. Just make sure to use a no-foreign-transaction-fee card so that you won't incur a surcharge. Oh, and if you're going with other people, don't look for prices for all of you at once. What I mean by that is, if you search for tickets for three people to travel together, the airline is going to post the highest rate for group tickets; that's why you're better off booking one at a time. Hey, not being able to sit together might suck, but if it saves you a couple of hundred bucks in the process, it's worth it.

3. Use Bubble Wrap, Drinking Straws and Dryer Sheets

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If you don't feel like bringing the bulky laptop case that your laptop typically comes in, you can always put your computer in some bubble wrap. You can either put your laptop inside a sturdy bubble wrap envelope or wrap it up yourself; that's one hack. Another? One of the things that really gets on my nerves is trying to travel with jewelry and everything getting all tangled up. One way to keep your necklaces from becoming an entangled mess is to use drinking straws. Run one part of the necklace down the straw and then clasp it to the part that is outside of the straw and—voila! No twisted-up drama. One more thing—while I'm not sure why there isn't any aromatherapy on airplanes, if you're like me and you absolutely hate the smell of planes, you can prevent the stench of them from affecting your clothing by putting some of your favorite-scented dryer sheets into your luggage. Trust me, it works.

4. Get Yourself a Charge Key

Airports have come a long way, as far as charging ports for cell phones go. But if you're someone who always seems to run out of battery life or you're notorious for losing your own charger, it's worth the money to invest in what is known as a charge key. It's the kind of charger that doubles up as a key chain that you can plug in to a USB port (like your laptop) to charge up your cell phone, anywhere, anytime. You can find a cheap tiny one on Amazon here.

5. Make Yourself a Travel-Friendly Care Package

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If you already know that it's gonna be a long day of flying, something else that can make your day a lot easier is creating a care package that you can put inside of your carry-on. It can include things like a couple of your favorite snacks; a collapsible water bottle (that you can fill up with water, juice, etc. after going through security); some noise-cancelling headphones; some Advil and/or Dramamine; a travel-size of moisturizer (with a few drops of essential oil in it to make your skin smell amazing) and, some lipstick or lip gloss (never forget that!).

Speaking of carry-ons and luggage in general, if it's time for some new gear, try and go with a color other than black, red or the usual neutrals. Airports are mad busy; you can make it harder for someone to mistake your baggage for theirs if yours happens to be as unique looking as possible.

6. Digitize Your Documents

In a perfect world, nothing would ever get lost or stolen—but that is not the world that we live in. If your wallet or purse happens to go missing, it can be easy to freak out, mostly because you won't have any identification on you. One way to give yourself some peace of mind is to put the numbers to your driver's license, passport and credit cards in your smartphone. As a back-up, also email them to yourself and send them to an emergency contact too—just in case.

7. Create a Cash Decoy

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If you're someone who travels with cash, one way to make sure it doesn't get stolen is to have a wallet on your body that is basically empty and to put your money into something like an empty lip balm tube that you can put into your front pants pocket. You might be surprised by how ingenious this little decoy tip actually is, especially in the midst of airport pick-pocketers.

8. Communicate with Your Airline via Social Media

If you're someone who loathes waiting on the phone to connect with an airline about something, hit them up on Twitter instead. It's kind of a trip how little this particular hack is publicized, but if you contact them via their handle or you shout-out a message with their hashtag, you might be amazed by how quickly they're respond to you. The same thing goes for TSA if you happen to have a question prior to going through security.

9. Keep a Pen Handy

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Sometimes, it's the little things that can make traveling the easiest. Although most things do transpire electronically these days, it can never hurt to have a pen on hand, just in case you need to write something down. If that "something" happens to be documentation forms as it relates to international travel, while you should still keep a pen close-by, you might want to download the Mobile Passport app. It can actually expedite your entry to a lot of airports and even cruises. (Just make sure to check if it's available in your city before downloading; it's an app that's still growing.)

10. Send Gifts Ahead of You (and Insure Them)

With articles out in cyberspace like "TSA Agents Reportedly Say Body Scanners May Single Out Black Women Because of Their Hair" (SMDH), we women already have enough to contend with while going through security; the last thing that you need is to be held up because you've got too many presents in your hand. During the holiday season, TSA tends to be even stricter, so rather than making the attempt to be a personal Santa who shows up to where you are going with gifts in tow, mail them a couple of days before you leave. Just make sure that you put a return address on them (just in case) and that you also pay a little extra for insurance and delivery confirmation. Otherwise, you can always wait until you arrive to do some last-minute shopping or go the gift card route. Travel safely, y'all.

Want more stories like this? Sign up for our newsletter here and check out the related reads below:

Why Every Woman Should Travel Alone At Least Once In Her Life

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10 Packing Hacks You Need Just In Time For Holiday Traveling

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ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
Sign up

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