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Northern Star

The Student News Site of Northern Illinois University

Northern Star

How to survive vacation

Lucy Atkinson
A suitcase sits in front of a door. When going on summer vacations, you should prepare for travel to make the most out of your trips. (Lucy Atkinson | Northern Star)

The spring semester is almost over, and summer is the perfect time to travel with friends or family.

As a frequent traveler myself, I’ve had many good and bad experiences on vacation, so here are some tips and tricks I’ve picked up to keep myself sane while away from home. 


Nothing is worse than waking up at 3 a.m. to catch a flight at O’Hare International Airport or Midway International Airport, so prepare beforehand.

Depending on the time of year you’re traveling, the airports may be busier than usual. 

Two hours before your flight boards is the recommended time to arrive at the airport, but you may need to get there earlier during those busy traveling seasons.

Keep in mind that TSA lines are only open at certain times of the day, so if you have an early flight, you may not be able to get through the security checkpoint as soon as you arrive.

Have your boarding pass ready before you arrive at the airport. 

There’s no need to print out a boarding pass because most airlines offer digital passes that you can add to your phone’s wallet.

If your airline offers free checked bags, take advantage of that. Some airports are massive and require trams to get from each terminal, which makes it a hassle trying to lug your suitcases from your gate to the pick-up spot.

Do not buy your snacks at the airport. 

Snacks are incredibly expensive there, and usually, there isn’t a good selection either. You should only ever buy drinks at the airport since they aren’t allowed through the security checkpoint.


As soon as you enter your hotel room, check your bed for bed bugs.

The worst way to end your trip is having to quarantine and wash all of your clothes as soon as you get home because you found little red bumps on your body.

Pull back the bedsheets and check the mattress and box spring seams for any bugs that might be hiding; little blood spots are a good indicator that there might be some nasty pests around.

Be mindful of your check-in and check-out times.

Most hotels don’t allow guests to check in until 3 p.m. and want guests out by 11:00 a.m. or noon. Know these times so you can plan your trip accordingly.

If you’re sharing a room with multiple people, bring earplugs, especially if you’re a light sleeper.

Even if they say they don’t snore, one of them is lying, so bring the earplugs just in case; it’s better to be safe than sorry.


Keep yourself entertained.

Listen to music, watch a movie, read a book or try to take a nap, because when you drive for more than four hours, it can start to feel monotonous.

If you’re taking a road trip across the country, there are many areas that do not have cellular connection, so make sure you keep track of where you’re going in case your map goes out.

Go to local restaurants. 

It’s OK to go to McDonald’s or Chipotle while on the road, but when you finally make it to your destination for the night, try going somewhere that isn’t a chain restaurant. You’re most likely never going back to these places ever again, so experience them as much as you can by trying their unique restaurants.

Don’t let the stress of planning a vacation ruin your time. Just enjoy your time with the people around you.

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