Your new winter travel planning checklist

3 December 2021
Your new winter travel planning checklist

This page is your winter travel planning checklist for any year. With the Thanksgiving holidays behind us in North America, there are still a lot of winter holidays before the new year begins:

  • Hanukkah: December 10–18
  • Las Posadas: December 16–24
  • Winter Solstice/Yule/Christmastide: December 21
  • Soyal: December 22
  • Christmas: December 25
  • Kwanzaa: December 26–January 1

Your winter travel checklist for this holiday season includes: a couple of high quality masks, hand sanitizer, early airport arrival, a jacket that’s easy to remove, correctly sized toiletries, and that’s not all. 

Checking off winter travel planning list

To be the most prepared traveler this holiday season, get started on these winter travel planning checklist items today.

1. Apply for TSA PreCheck now

The TSA PreCheck is offered by the US Department of Homeland Security and allows members to use expedited security lines at US airports.

Any US citizen or lawful permanent resident is eligible.

You need two things to apply:

  1. A roughly 10-minute appointment
  2. An $85 fee

Is it worth it? 96% of TSA PreCheck passengers waited less than five minutes in line during September 2021, according to the TSA. The PreCheck lasts for five years and many travel credit cards give you credit if you pay the fee with the card.

Pro tipGlobal Entry is an expedited US customs screening membership for international travelers entering the US. It includes TSA PreCheck as part of its benefits, so if you travel internationally, Global Entry is the better choice.

2. Join the loyalty programs

Travel loyalty programs are everywhere now and they can come in handy when you need them.

Hotel programs can give you benefits like late checkout, free cancellations, and free Wi-Fi in your room so you don’t have to hang out in the lobby to surf the web. 

Rental car programs can help you skip the line at the rental counter and go straight to your car. Some travel credit cards offer automatic car rental elite status even if you’ve never rented with that company before.

3. Download the airline apps

Many people deleted these apps from their smartphones at the start of the pandemic, but airline apps have come a long way since.

Now’s the time to reload the apps for any airlines you’ll be flying this holiday season.

Here’s what the airline apps can give you:

  • Mobile check-in and seat assignments
  • Immediate alerts for gate changes or delays
  • Touch-free mobile boarding passes
  • Upgrade standby waitlist info
  • Meal selections
  • In-flight entertainment
  • Airport maps
  • Quick access to customer support

Not every airline’s app has all the same benefits. See The Points Guy’s list of app perks and download the ones you need today.

4. Get smart about packing

Traveling light is harder in the winter, but keeping things light is easier on you. We’ve talked about smart packing tips for winter travel delays, but here are more tips.

Some tips for light packing this winter:

  • Only pack items you’ll wear at least twice
  • Pack light layers for variety
  • Choose a down coat over a wool one
  • Organize items in packing cubes
  • Wear the bulkiest things on the plane

Pro tip: freeze the water bottle you plan to take on the flight. Frozen water bottles are allowed through the security checkpoints as long as they’re frozen completely solid and no more than 3.4 oz.

5. Double, no triple-check travel restrictions

Most of the world’s countries are now open to travelers from the US but as variants – including the new Omicron – continue to introduce themselves, some places have resumed travel restrictions.

Just this week, the US announced continued mask requirements and reduced the COVID test requirement from 3 days to 24 hours prior to entering the country.

No matter where you’re traveling this winter, you’ll want to keep checking the travel restrictions. These are the sites that can help:

Other interesting news

Travel trends – Google highlights three new travel trends shaping trips in 2022

First class cabins are changing – here’s a peek at the possible future of first class travel

Need gifts? This 2021 Holiday Gift Guide highlights the best accessories for air travelers (text and audio).

Women who travel – How women are spending their travel money right now.

Want to get paid to travel? This just might be your $85,000 dream job for a year.

Damian Tysdal

Damian Tysdal is the founder of CoverTrip, and is a licensed agent for travel insurance (MA 1883287). He believes travel insurance should be easier to understand, and started the first travel insurance blog in 2006.

Damian Tysdal is the founder of CoverTrip, and is a licensed agent for travel insurance (MA 1883287). He believes travel insurance should be easier to understand, and started the first travel insurance blog in 2006.