The cold, wintry (unless you’re in LA or South Beach) months of the holiday season in the U.S. can be a mix of time well spent with friends and family, and utter chaos, as you do your best to navigate through the epically long lines of traffic and unexpected weather delays at airports. Back in 2012, AAA announced that somewhere in the ballpark of 93 million people travel during Christmas and New Year’s, and the number has only increased in recent years. That’s a lot of people standing between you and honey glazed ham. If you’re on an O1 visa, you might be used to traveling by now, but here’s a few tips for getting to your destination this holiday season with minimized stress in the U.S.:
- Travel Really Early or Really Late
Waking up early and traveling is a pain, but so are cancelled flights, delays, and long security lines. Booking an early flight will make room for the chance that your traveling doesn’t go quite as planned. It also means less people at the airport, because everyone will be sleeping. This goes for late night flights as well. Don’t get yourself caught in the rat race of holiday traveling during the peak hours of the day. Save yourself some stress, travel early or late, and take a good long nap once you get to your destination. You will thank yourself later.
- Travel on Holidays
This may sound strange, but it’s true. The day before big holidays in the U.S. like Thanksgiving, Christmas (Christmas Eve too), and New Years can be the busiest travel days of the year. Most people want to get to their destination before the actual day of the holiday, which means less people will be traveling. And if you don’t happen to celebrate one of these holidays, but you are traveling, you’ll be avoiding hordes of vacationers who have already made their trek.
- Protect Yourself from Cybercrime
Nothing is more stressful than having your cell phone stolen or your credit card information hacked. Unfortunately, hackers and crooks have a field day with unsuspecting travelers during the holiday season. While traveling, try to avoid using Public Wifi networks and instead utilize your own personal hotspot via your phone or tablet. Public Wifi’s are a hacker’s delight. Be careful using credit card information on public networks, especially while staying in a hotel room. Lastly, don’t leave your devices unattended. This is the easiest way to have your personal wares stolen by good old-fashioned thieves.
- Pack Light
Is there anything worse than finally arriving to your destination, walking all the way from the terminal to the luggage conveyer belt, waiting and waiting, only to find out that your belongings are lost? Unfortunately, this happens all of the time. Try to avoid lost luggage by packing light. If possible, fit your belongings into a carry-on so your things will always be by your side, ensuring you will arrive at your destination with all of your luggage. If you have medications or important papers, make sure they are packed away in your carry-on. If you have too much to carry-on, try shipping your luggage to your destination before you even travel. This is especially helpful if you celebrate Christmas and plan on bringing gifts for loved ones. If you ship the gifts beforehand, it will minimize the risk that you’ll show up at the door with an empty sack.
- Be Calm and Travel On
You’re well aware as a visa recipient that stressful things are bound to happen when you travel. You might misplace your cell phone, miss your flight, or have a flight delayed or cancelled on you. Turbulence may hit suddenly and the guy sitting next to you on the plane may spill his complimentary ice-cold drink all over your lap. It happens. Breath. Laugh. You’ll have a great story to tell. As the old proverb goes, it’s the journey getting there, not the destination.