Winter Weather Travel Tips

by Country Inns & Suites
Friday, November 18, 2011

No matter where you’re traveling, winter weather can cause unpredictable delays. Flight cancellations, poor driving conditions and closed businesses can be a major headache, especially if you’re far from home.

Even warm-weather regions aren’t immune to winter weather: Last year, major airports across the Southern United States were closed for days due to unexpected snowstorms. And since these parts of the country are less equipped to deal with ice and snow, you shouldn’t count them out when anticipating delays, either. The good news? With a little patience and preparation, you can make the best of less-than-perfect travel weather.

Air Travel Delays
All may be clear at your home airport, but if snow is bearing down on another part of the country, you still might suffer delays due to backlog. Before leaving for the airport, be sure to check your airline’s website to confirm your flight status. Many airlines and travel websites offer text message alerts or emails to keep you informed even when you’re en route.

Speaking of text messages and emails, keep chargers on hand for all of your electronics. If you get stuck in an airport, you’ll want to keep the batteries for your phone, laptop or tablet charged—and you don’t want to find out that what you need is in the bag you checked. And really, it’s best to not check any belongings at all, if you can help it. If you end up with an unplanned overnight stay, you’ll want to have your clothes and essentials with you. Plus, delays and cancellations are practically the perfect recipe for getting separated from your checked luggage.

It’s important to remember that airlines may not be required to compensate you for cancellations or delays due to weather. Some airlines will provide food vouchers or cots for stranded travelers, but it varies and you should be prepared to fend for yourself. If your flight is affected and you don’t mind picking up the tab, get rebooked for the next day and try to get a good night’s sleep at a nearby hotel.

Winter Driving Conditions
The best tip for driving in extreme wintry conditions is not to do it. But if you must be on the road, be sure to take precautions and consider sticking to driving during daylight hours on well-trafficked roads as frequently as possible. Review driving tips from The Weather Channel and winter storm advice from FEMA in advance. And before you head out to your destination, listen to local weather forecasts and always make sure someone knows your route.

If you’ve rented a car, make sure a representative from the rental company reviews essential safety and handling features with you before you leave the lot if you aren’t already familiar with them. If you’re driving your own car, check to see if it should be it serviced before taking it into uncertain driving conditions. Be prepared by always keeping your gas tank as full as possible, and keep a blanket and water in the car in case you get stranded.

Packing Advice for Winter Wear
Winter weather also means dealing with bulky, winter clothing, which can be hard to pack. If you’re flying, wear your winter coat and boots on the plane. It may be a pain going through security, but you’ll save room (and weight!) in your luggage, and won’t have to go digging for it once you’ve landed. When you board the plane, just ask a flight attendant to hang your coat in one of the closets.

Layering is key for winter wardrobes. It may be frigid outside, but as soon as you’re indoors, you’ll want to strip off those extra layers. Silk long underwear goes a long way in keeping you warm, plus it’s lightweight and easy to pack. A scarf is also a must-have and can double as a neck pillow for your flight. Can’t live without your chunky knits? Purchase a set of compression bags to help get everything in your suitcase.