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Five Tips for Surviving Holiday Travel at MIA

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Holiday travel sucks. When you're traveling around Christmas, all the tired airport cliches come true: the screaming babies, the toddlers kicking the back of your seat, the rude TSA agents and the total and utter lack of personal space on any aircraft in operation. We're not going to sugarcoat it for you: If you are traveling through MIA in the next two weeks, you are going to regret it. In every circumstance. Fact.

But though you might not be able to completely avoid the murderous rage that all holiday travelers carry with them, tucked right beside their iPads and neck pillows, there are a few things you can do to reduce it. MIA is a vast, confusing world, but it's one we have explored to the fullest, studying its quirks and making note of its rare delights. Follow these tips, and you just might avoid getting arrested for losing your temper and telling security personnel exactly where they can stick that body scanner.

Parking: Don't be a hero
We've all done it: Driven around and around

and around the parking garage at the mall or the parking lot at Publix,

looking for the perfect spot. At MIA, perhaps more than anywhere else,

this is not a productive use of your time. We know you don't want to

haul your many, many bags of luggage across the concrete any more than

you'd want to haul your groceries. But we also know from experience

that the combination of scanning rows of cars and spiraling from floor

to floor in the Dolphin and Flamingo garages has the potential to drive a

soul to madness. Madness, we tell you. You'll be pissed off before you

even set foot inside. Just suck it up and drive to the ghetto spots on

the top floor -- or, if you have cash to spare, just valet your damn car

and be done with it. Which leads us to tip number two....

Throw money at it

know, we know. Economic times are hard. You've already spent all your

money on gifts for your family and friends. But still: Nothing solves

problems at MIA more quickly than a wad of cash. Parking's a bitch?

Throw money at it and valet your car. Carry-on bags too heavy to lug

around? Throw money at it and check those clunkers. Terminal's a

madhouse? Throw money at it and buy a pass to your airline's business

lounge. Consider it an investment in your sanity.

The mojito bar is your friend

god we live in the land of Bacardi. The brand's mojito bars would be

more aptly described as "stations," or perhaps "kiosks" -- they're

literally just bars set in the middle of hallways where bartenders mix

up cocktail after cocktail. Having a little booze in your system is

helpful in just about any airport scenario, but the real treat here is

the kiosk itself. You can typically get in and out of the place without

worrying where to stash your bag or waiting on a waitress for 20

minutes, which is what you can plan on doing at nearly every other bar

at MIA.

Eat well
The only thing worse than traveling during

the holidays is traveling during the holidays on an empty stomach.

Luckily for you, MIA's D terminal has modernized over the past year, and

with it comes food that you'll actually want to eat. Ice Box Cafe is

here, as is Sushi Maki and a Shula's outlet. It might not be the gourmet

fare you'd seek out in the real world, but in the alternative universe

of airport dining, this is some five-star shit.

Use the SkyTrain

D terminal upgrades included the addition of a railway that brings

passengers to four different places within it. That might sound

unnecessary -- it's only one airport terminal, after all -- until you've

walked the D terminal from end to end. It takes at least 20 minutes.

Literally. Apart from that convenience, the SkyTrain is also a novelty

-- it's the city of Miami's only public transportation option that

functions punctually and efficiently. And we've never, ever seen it

crowded. Most tourists are too oblivious and most locals are too set in

their ways to ride the escalators up to the SkyTrain level. Or they just

don't realize how far it really is to Gate D-60.

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