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How to Navigate Flying During the Holiday Season

We spoke to a local travel agent about the best ways to get across the country this holiday season.

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In the world of Expedia and Kayak, it’s difficult to know which online service (if any) truly cares about your travel interests. One good thing has come out of the chaos, though: the reinvention of travel agencies. Exhibit A is 10-month-old Tafari Travel in Cherry Creek, which educates both clients—and the community at large—about potential new destinations by regularly hosting free events, such as mezcal tastings, that anyone can attend. We’re lucky Tafari president Leah Smith is as free with advice as she is with booze, offering these suggestions for navigating thorny holiday travel.

Booking

Unpredictable situations like weather delays make flexible travel a necessity around the holidays. If you purchased a flight through a low-fare website like Priceline, though, rebooking means you’re forced to deal with its overwhelmed customer service reps—or the airline’s overwhelmed customer service reps. Travel agents, on the other hand, do the work of finding another seat for you and can monitor and snag available seats on any airline. And, if you purchase travel insurance (four to 10 percent of your total prepaid costs), you’ll waste neither time nor money if a snafu disrupts your plans.

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Flying

When heading home for Thanksgiving, Christmas, or Hanukkah, avoid flights with connections in Chicago or New York City. (These hubs experience a higher frequency of winter delays due to greater chances of snow.) Or use the Turkey Day break to take that longer international trip to Italy or Bermuda you’ve been dreaming about; only Americans will be on vacation en masse, so you can expect smaller crowds. Your folks will understand—or maybe they’ll even tag along.

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Approximate percentage of flights that were delayed out of Denver International Airport from 2012 to 2015 during the week of Thanksgiving, making it the eighth worst U.S. airport to depart from over the holiday

Staying Healthy

That kid wiping his nose on the armrest is just the most visible sign that airplane cabins are essentially petri dishes for germs. For an immune system boost, Smith swears by a mix of Emergen-C, a B-12 vitamin, and four tablets of spirulina—a type of algae packed with antioxidants—every four hours. If your muscles could use some TLC too, do a modified yoga pose such as a simple seated twist (scootch forward to place your right hand behind you on the seat, cup your right knee with your left hand and look over your right shoulder, then switch sides) every 30 minutes to two hours, depending on flight time.

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