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Editorial: Follow tips to travel better

Whether it's long distance or not all that far, people will be traveling for the holiday season. America's Travel Leaders have offered veteran and novice travelers alike their tips to travel better.

Because Travel Leaders travel agents have experienced higher demand this season, its agents caution planes will be filled to capacity, thus underscoring their top two tips to allow for extra time in getting to the airport and to pack plenty of patience.

Tips for packing lighter include:

--In recent years, most airlines have begun charging for checked bags, often even the first. This can make packing particularly challenging. Winter travel typically calls for thicker clothing, which takes more space to pack, meaning more bags and more fees. Travelers are advised to ask themselves, "Do I really need this?" before packing anything into their bags.

--Make a list of the days to be away, and what will be done and worn that day.

--Determine which clothes can be worn repeatedly and opt for those which can be layered.

--Wear bulkier items--including heavy shoes--on the plane.

--Minimize the number of shoes--bring shoes that can be worn for both casual and dressier occasions.

--Consider shipping items really needed--including gifts--ahead to the destination.

--Always check the Transportation Safety Administration's (TSA) list of prohibited items for carry-on and/or checked bags, available at

Tips before getting to the airport include:

--Stop mail and newspaper deliveries or have a trusted neighbor collect them.

--Make home look occupied--put lights on timer switches and be sure to have snow removal lined up in advance.

--Inspect luggage to make sure it's in good condition for travel, then pack as lightly as possible.

--Distinguish own bag to make sure it will be easy to identify if checking it.

--Leave gifts unwrapped or ship them ahead.

--Follow TSA's 3-1-1 rules on liquids and gels by getting one transparent one-quart zip-top bag that can contain each item of no more than three ounces.

--Check in online within 24 hours of departure and print boarding pass at home (or have it sent to a smart phone). Remember that better seats may open up because some passengers may be upgraded.

--Before leaving home, check the flight's status to confirm it's on time.

--Investigate parking options before leaving home--consider using an offsite lot where a reservation can be made in advance.

--Allow for plenty of time to get to the airport--arrive two hours before domestic flights and three hours ahead of international flights.

Tips once at the airport include:

--Don't run the risk of arriving too late to park, check in, check bags, pass through security and make it to the gate before the plane door closes.

--If the boarding pass hasn't already been printed out, use a self-service check-in kiosk at the airport.

--Have any bags needed to be checked tagged with a name--or pack lightly enough so that the bag can be carried on with the understanding gate checking can be done often if those bins become full.

--Remember most airlines limit passengers to one small carry-on bag and just one other carry-on item, such as a tote bag, purse or laptop computer case.

--Approaching security checkpoints, keep boarding pass and identification handy.

--If having a quart-size bag of toiletries and/or laptop computer in a carry-on, make sure it's easy to reach and ready to place in a security tray.

--Put any items in a bag or in the security tray that might set off a metal detector--cell phone, loose change, a belt with a metal buckle, a watch, etc. In consideration of others around, begin the process of having each of these items out of the bag, if placing in a security tray, as security is approached.

--After clearing by security, be sure to gather all belongings before leaving the area.

--If there's time, sit down to enjoy a snack or purchase some food to take on the flight. Remember that most domestic flights now have a very limited selection of snacks on board.

--Finally, call up reserves of patience when needed. Keep a sense of humor and remember the reason for traveling is to enjoy the holidays.