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Stuck traveling in this Nor’easter? 5 travel tips for survival and sanity

As the Northeast braced for a potentially historic snowstorm, hearty travelers determined to make flights took their chances Monday and streamed into New York's LaGuardia airport.

Travel experts—and intrepid road warriors armed with laptops, mobile apps and lots of patience—offered tips on how to navigate airports and other travel options with a Nor'easter barreling down.

A blizzard warning was issued for a 250-mile stretch of the Northeast, including New York and Boston, and dump at least 2 feet of snow by Wednesday. "This could be a storm the likes of which we have never seen before," New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said Sunday.

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1. Consider waivers

Kory Kang was traveling to Dallas from LaGuardia on Virgin Airlines earlier Monday.
Kate Rogers | CNBC
Kory Kang was traveling to Dallas from LaGuardia on Virgin Airlines earlier Monday.

More than 2,900 flights within, into or out of the U.S. were canceled Monday, according to FlightAware.com, and 2,600 flights were canceled for Tuesday.

Major airlines including America, Delta, United and JetBlue have announced that they will waive change fees for travelers ticketed to fly through affected East Coast airports on Monday and Tuesday. If your flight was already canceled, you're entitled to a full refund if you opt not to reschedule.

"Check your flight status every single hour," suggested Kory Kang, who was traveling to Dallas from LaGuardia on Virgin Airlines. "If I know there's a bad weather forecast, I bring my laptop just in case," Kang said. "Also, make sure you have a backup plan."

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2. Use apps and power up

Keith Stransky was traveling to Dallas from LaGuardia. His tip? Don't forget to power up all your devices.
Kate Rogers | CNBC
Keith Stransky was traveling to Dallas from LaGuardia. His tip? Don't forget to power up all your devices.

To stay informed, travelers' best bet to is to have the airline's app installed on your smartphone, said Jason Clampet, co-founder of travel site Skift.com.

And set up the app to receive push notifications about delays. When in doubt, check the flight status before you leave for the airport as it's often easier (never mind more comfortable) to troubleshoot from your home or hotel, he said.

And remember to power up all your devices.

"My original 3 p.m. flight was canceled. I'd leave a lot of time and have everything [mobile devices] charged up," said Keith Stransky, traveling to Dallas on American Airlines

Read More The 10 best apps for road warriors

3. 800 number or wait in line?

Jonathan Rodriguez was traveling to Wisconsin from LaGuardia earlier Monday.
Kate Rogers | CNBC
Jonathan Rodriguez was traveling to Wisconsin from LaGuardia earlier Monday.

For faster travel service, experts suggest trying a combo approach.

Call the toll-free customer service line while you're waiting in line at the airport, said Rick Seaney, chief executive of Fare Compare.com. "Whoever is first to get a seat on the 'next flight out' wins this game," he said.

Flights generally are so full these days that the longer you wait to rebook, the less likely you are to get a timely flight after the storm. You could also try connecting with the airline on Facebook or Twitter, he said. However, be aware that some airlines are more responsive to requests via social platforms for help than others. It's probably not the fastest way to get help.

Using technology to investigate options and pass the time also helps.

"I bring a tablet to keep myself entertained, but if things get really bad, I'd give up and come another day," said Jonathan Rodriguez, traveling to Wisconsin on American Airlines from LaGuardia.

4. Splurge on a private lounge

The Virgin Clubhouse lounge at JFK.
Source: Virgin Airlines.
The Virgin Clubhouse lounge at JFK.

With the storm approaching and its travel aftermath likely to be messy, it can be worth it to splurge on a daily airline lounge pass. Most charge a fee of roughly $50 for access.

And there are customer service agents inside the lounges, and the wait time for help often isn't as long, said Brian Kelly, founder of ThePointsGuy.com.

"It can help you get accommodated a lot quicker," Kelly said. Lounges also offer added perks including free Wi-Fi, snacks and drinks. Some locations have showers and office space. Virgin Atlantic's lounges even offer complimentary salon and spa services.

5. Eat and pass the time

Terrah Poole and daughter Kyah Poole were traveling to Alberta, Canada on American Airlines from LaGuardia Airport earlier Monday.
Kate Rogers | CNBC
Terrah Poole and daughter Kyah Poole were traveling to Alberta, Canada on American Airlines from LaGuardia Airport earlier Monday.

Once you've figured out a game plan, waiting for departure is the next hurdle.

"Eat" in order to stay sane in the airport, said Terrah Poole, who was traveling to Alberta, Canada, on American Airlines at LaGuardia with daughter Kyah Poole. At LaGuardia, most food courts and restaurants were open Monday.

Kyah's go-to for sanity at the airport: "I like to listen to my music."

And heading to a warm destination always helps.

"I try to find a good newspaper or a book to read, or I go to my iPad to do some looking around," said Pia Althin, who was traveling to Miami on American Airlines from LaGuardia. "If there's more delays, I will make phone calls or have food and drinks—depending on the time."

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