Winter travel brings with it special challenges, be it flying, taking the train, or driving.
Given that the winter storm season is in full force in much of the United States, it’s important to be prepared for multiple exigencies.
Here’s what you can do to stay safe and minimize delays when problems due to weather arise.
1.) Travel to Your Destination Early
If you absolutely, positively have to be somewhere on a specific day, don’t leave anything to chance. Plan to arrive at least one day early, if not two. If you’ve already booked your flight, you can still change your reservation, although most airlines charge a hefty fee. But – for many – that’s better than not going at all. If airlines already have a weather waiver in place, you can make changes at no charge.
2.) Take the Train
While trains aren’t completely exempt from winter weather cancellations, they still tend to be a more reliable means of transportation than planes or automobiles when bad weather hits.
3.) Stay Informed
If flying, make sure you are enrolled to receive alerts from your airline. Regardless of the mode of transportation, check the weather forecast frequently, as many storms that are predicted turn out to be much ado about nothing.
Consider using a service such as Expert Flyer, which gives you the same information airline agents and travel agents have access to, to check availability on other flights. If a storm is affecting travel en route, but not at the departure and arrival points, look into alternate routes.
The Internet makes it possible to read up on local news before you leave home and, while you can’t read everything, browsing headlines could very well make the difference between getting there and getting stuck if, for example, security staff in Germany go on strike again.
4.) Go Online
When flights cancel at an airport, most passengers simply get on line to get rebooked. Skip the line and go to your smartphone, laptop, or tablet – the airline may have already rebooked you. Otherwise, while everyone else is standing on line for an hour or two, you might be able to rebook yourself in minutes. If you have elite status with your airline’s frequent-flyer program and for whatever reason can’t check online, call the airline and make sure to enter your frequent-flyer number so your call is routed correctly if the system does not automatically recognize who is calling.
5.) If You Do Drive
If part of your trip is by car, make sure you have the appropriate tires (in many regions, local laws require winter tires at this time) and keep extra supplies on hand including a fully charged mobile phone, ice scraper and brush, blankets, at least one flashlight, a battery-operated radio, and several bottles of water.,
(Photo: Accura Media Group)