If you traveled in your youth, you know how much the airline industry has changed. In those days, there were fewer gates, more predictable schedules, and last-minute changes were uncommon.  Hospitality was a big deal. Most flights included a decent meal, and if something went wrong the airlines took care of you.

Nowadays, you’re pretty much on your own. This is likely because airlines are determined to cut costs, and flying many more airplanes. If you experience some sort of delay or interruption as you travel this holiday season, it’s best to be prepared to face the situation without expecting much assistance from your carrier. Of course, you may get lucky and have smooth flights and excellent service, but it’s best to hope for the best but plan for the worst.

Download the App

If you booked your travel through a third-party site such as Expedia or Travelocity, be sure to download their app so you have all confirmation information at your fingertips. Also, consider taking a screenshot of the information in case you lose data access.

While you’re at it, download the app for your carrier, too. You can find your boarding passes, gate information, and flight status there; you’ll also find information about delays and gate changes. 

Buy Travel Insurance

Many people opt out of travel insurance because they don’t want to add additional costs to their trip, but insurance can be a lifesaver. Coverage varies from one policy to another, so be sure to read the fine print before you commit. If the insurance offered by the airline doesn’t have all the features you need, contact a travel insurance agency and purchase a better product.

Trip interruption and travel delay coverage may cover the cost of emergency clothing and lodging, among other things. Unfortunately, you will have to pay for these items up front and file a claim later, so be sure to keep all the receipts!

Plan Ahead

Think about where you are traveling and have a contingency plan. This is great for road trips, too. Look at your route and check for resources that you might be able to access in case the unexpected arises.

If your clothing is in a checked bag, carry essential medications, a spare pair of underwear, socks, and a shirt in your carry-on in case your luggage is lost. Also, be sure to have plenty of snacks, pain relievers, a charger for your cell phone, emergency contact information, and translation books if you will be visiting a foreign country. A little preparation can go a long way.

Tune It Out

There’s only so much you can do if your trip gets delayed, especially if the cause is  inclement weather. Of course it’s frustrating, but raging and getting stressed out isn’t going to help; the experience will be far better if you can relax or enjoy it. 

Grab a book and some magazines and take the time to catch up on your reading. Listen to music. Splurge on a nice meal. If you’ve got kids, connect to the wi-fi and stream a movie (or two). Play a game or tell silly stories.

Most importantly, don’t lose perspective. You will arrive at your destination eventually. Take deep breaths and try not to think about all of the things you are missing. Focus on what you can control, and find solutions instead of dwelling on problems. 

What are your top holiday travel tips?