November 23, 2010 in City, Region, Travel

Whether by plane or car, prepare for holiday travel

Hannah Sampson McClatchy Newspapers
Traveling by plane?
Fly easy:
• Show up at least two hours early for domestic flights and three hours in advance for international flights.
• Supply personal information online at least 72 hours in advance of your flight so you can print out your boarding pass at home.
• Wear shoes that can slip on and off easily.
• Forget your belt.
• Put your jewelry and watch in your purse or carry-on bag when you leave home. Put them on after going through security to make the process simpler.
• Have your boarding pass and government-issued photo I.D. ready before you approach the security line.
• Know the rules: Carry-on liquids must be in containers no larger than 3 ounces — and must fit in a single quart-sized plastic zip-top bag.
• Medication, baby formula and breast milk in larger containers can be carried on, but you must declare those items for inspection.
• If traveling with children, use a stroller that collapses easily. It will have to take a ride through the X-ray machine.
• Bring toys and snacks to keep the kids occupied in case of delays in line, at the gate or on the plane.
• If you’re toting gifts, wait until you arrive at your destination to wrap them. Security officers might unwrap them.
• For the newer full-body scanners, remove everything from your pockets — including your wallet and pieces of paper — to reduce the need for additional screening. Put everything in your carry-on bag.
Source: Transportation Security Administration and Air Transport Association

Traveling by car?
Keep wheels fit:
• Check your tire tread depth by inserting the edge of a penny with Lincoln’s head going in first. If the top of his head is covered, there’s a safe amount of tread. If the top of his head is visible, the tire is worn out and needs replacing.
• Look for signs of uneven wear or damage such as cuts, cracks, splits, punctures and bulges, which could result in air loss.
• Test air pressure in the tires before driving; the tires should be “cool.”
Source: Cooper Tire & Rubber Company

MIAMI — Travel nationwide over the Thanksgiving period is expected to increase by more than 11 percent to 42.2 million people, according to projections from the American Automobile Association.

Air travel, which has been in a slump for the past couple of years as recession stymied the nation, is projected to increase by 3.5 percent across the country. AAA is predicting 1.6 million leisure travelers will fly from or within the U.S. during the five-day stretch beginning Wednesday.

Add rigorous new security measures, which might be unfamiliar to infrequent fliers, and the end result for travelers will be longer-than-usual waits for more-thorough-than-usual screenings to get on fuller-than-usual planes.

“People should expect the unexpected during the holiday travel period,” said Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood (Fla.) International Airport spokesman Greg Meyer.

They definitely should be prepared for scrutiny at security checkpoints, where the Transportation Security Administration has installed 400 full-body scanners at 68 airports around the country.

The scanners, along with more intrusive pat-downs, have drawn some loud opposition on websites and in the media, and some groups have threatened to boycott the new machines on Nov. 24, the busy travel day before Thanksgiving, which could add further delays.

The Air Transport Association expects 24 million people to fly on U.S. airlines between Nov. 19 and 30. That number includes all travelers, not just leisure, and counts as one passenger every time a person gets on a plane — even if it’s a connecting flight.

Though Thanksgiving is a busy holiday for flying, millions of travelers are also expected to drive to their destination. AAA projections call for an increase of about 12 percent in auto travel nationally, to 39.7 million people; in Florida, about 2.1 million people are expected to drive more than 50 miles from home, up 11.6 percent.

That’s despite gas prices that are expected to be about 25 cents more expensive per gallon than last year. Regular unleaded will cost between $2.85 and $2.95 a gallon.

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