It might not be snowing in Boston right now, but the latest dump put Boston at around the nine-foot mark for winter snowfall. To give you some idea of what nine feet of snow actually means, the snow in Boston is about two Christina Aguileras deep, which is the last time you’ll hear me use “Christina Aguilera” and “deep” in the same sentence. But look on the bright side, Boston: You won the Super Bowl.
Ah, but that’s cold comfort these days, when Bostonians and Northeasterners in general are running out of places to put the white stuff. No wonder so many people from this area are looking to get out and get away just as fast as they can.
They need to be smart about it, though. Here are seven tips that will help you make sure you’ll actually be able to leave your snow-covered den on your late-winter escape.
- Don’t forget the infrastructure: Even though planes may be flying, it may take more time than you expect to get to the airport. It doesn’t take a 20-inch dumping to snarl freeway traffic; sometimes an inch is plenty. And once you get to the airport, parking may be compromised. If you’re driving, allow extra time to get to the airport, expect to park further from the terminal than usual, and tune your radio to traffic updates. If you don’t usually, consider using mass transit for at least a portion of your trip. For instance, if you’re flying out of Boston’s Logan Airport, take the Blue Line subway to the airport. It goes even when the highway’s clogged.
- Alternate routes: Along that same line, have a few alternate routes in mind when you leave for the airport, just in case weather-related traffic snafus force you out of your way. It’s not just snow, either; this past Thanksgiving, a totally unpredicted bank of freezing fog blew in off Lake Michigan and crippled Milwaukee’s northern suburbs, sending cars and trucks careening into ditches all along the freeway. I was trapped on the highway but managed to crawl to an exit, and tacked and pivoted my way to my destination – and then I took a different, drier, southerly way out of town. A little bit of flexibility – and some extra time – can spell the difference between making and missing a flight.
- Airline apps: In case you haven’t noticed, airline apps have gotten much better at updating you on flight information. In fact, for most flights the airline-app experience far outstrips the actual airline experience. If you have a smartphone and don’t have the app for your air carrier, get it. Use it. And if you delete it when your trip’s over, that’s okay, too.
- Pack for here and there: Okay, this doesn’t mean throwing a pair of Sorels in your bag if you’re going to Cancun. It does mean having a couple extra layers of warm clothes (and a snow shovel) in your car just in case something happens on the way there, and/or to warm you up post-trip. Because 10 degrees feels way different after a week in Cancun than it does before.
- TSA PreCheck: Snow and cold makes every line longer – even the security lines at airports. Add in a couple of security agents who can’t make it into work because of bad weather and it’s Linemageddon. If you want your departure to be as sure a thing as possible, sign up for TSA PreCheck. It’s easy to obtain and reasonably priced ($85), especially if you fly four or more times a year. TSA PreCheck speeds you through security, giving you one less thing to worry about when the weather tightens time.
- Take care of the home: Lower thermostat temperatures while you’re gone could lead to frozen pipes. The last thing you want to come home to after leaving one large body of water is a different body of water in your basement. Make sure all pipes that lead to or come from outside your home, or all pipes in unheated crawlspaces, are sufficiently insulated before you leave.
- Don‘t forget the travel insurance: Tell the truth; you saw this one coming. It’s true, though: The worse the weather, the greater the need for travel insurance. We happen to like AirCare and ExactCare from Berkshire Hathaway Travel Protection, but we’re biased. Their buy-the-day-before feature lets you check the weather before you purchase – in case, you know, another Christina Aguilera’s worth of snow is on its way.