Traveling for the holidays can be very challenging. Crowded roadways, long lines at the airport, sold-out hotels, busy gas stations, and wait times at restaurants are just a few of the realities you should be prepared for. One thing to remember this time of year is that every traveler is going to be facing the same challenges. The holidays are supposed to be the happiest time of the year. It’s a time of giving, sharing, and caring. A time to spend with family and friends. Your patience will surely be tested during your journey but remember how wonderful everything will be once you reach your destination.
Here are some holiday travel tips to help alleviate the stress of your holiday travel.
1: Know Before You Go
Is there another route that might be a few miles longer but will have less traffic? Is there an alternative route to take in case of traffic delays or inclement weather? Highways with lots of traffic or a drive through the mountains with lots of snow will make driving hectic and hazardous so plan accordingly. If traveling with the kids be sure to find a place they might be able to take a break and release some energy during a long trip. For example a play area at a local fast food restaurant, a rest area or a park. For adults maybe just a scenic rest stop will help recharge your internal battery and make the trip more pleasurable. If you are flying make sure to check the airline’s restrictions ahead of time for concerns such as what items you can bring on the plane with you, carry-on luggage size restrictions, and weight limits and fees for checked bags.
Be sure to download the latest travel apps before you leave home. If you are flying you will want to make sure you have the app for the airline(s) you will be traveling on during your trip. There are excellent apps for the airport too that will give you approximate wait times you’ll spend in security, names of restaurants, and maps of the airport terminals. If you are traveling by car this year, you can find the cheapest gas with an app such as GasBuddy or where the nearest bathroom is with an app called “Where to Wee”. Remember to keep your phones charged while traveling in the car. A good car phone charger cord is a must to stay connected in today’s electronic world.
3: Pack Only What You Need
Of course if you are flying to your destination, a good way to save time is to avoid checking your luggage altogether if you can. You won’t have to wait for your luggage in the baggage claim area at your arrival city’s airport. If you have to check your bags then a good suggestion is to bring smaller gifts in your carry-on bag. This will avoid gifts being opened by the TSA if your luggage has to be inspected and you will have your gifts to give to family and friends in the event your luggage is lost. The TSA recommends mailing your gifts to your destination instead of packing them in your luggage. Remember that if you do check your luggage make sure that you have all of your medications, important documents and a change of clothes in your carry-on too. If you are driving during the holidays please keep in mind that you will more than likely come home with more than you left with, especially if you or your family members receive large-sized gifts, so make sure you have enough space in your vehicle.
4: Pack Your Headsets and Earplugs
The best way to mentally escape your stressful surroundings is to find peace and quiet during your travels. The easiest way to do that is with noise cancelling headphones or earplugs. These are great accessories to have with you especially with noisy airports and if you want to get some rest during your flight. If you are a passenger in the car then noise cancelling headphones will block out the noise of the radio while you try to focus on reading or enjoy quiet while taking a nap. An eye mask and neck pillow are other accessories that will help you get some quality rest.
Remember to pack snacks and drinks for the road trip for you and your family. You never know how long it will be until you find a restaurant that everyone will agree on plus traffic may delay your schedule. If you’re flying then definitely get a snack or sandwich before you board the plane. The airline food may not be something you prefer or the selection may not be to your liking. It’s always better to have and not need than to need and not have.
6: Ship gifts or give gift cards.
The TSA suggests shipping holiday gifts to your intended destination. If you prefer to bring gifts with you the TSA suggests you wait until you reach your destination to wrap them. The TSA might have to unwrap a present to inspect it if they suspect it’s something of concern. Bring the gift that can’t go wrong such as gift cards to your loved ones favorite store or Amazon Gift Cards
7: Travel on off-peak days.
The day before the holiday you are traveling for and weekends are the busiest travel days. For example if Christmas is on a Monday, driving or flying on the weekend is expected to be the busiest time for travelers. In this example driving and flights on the weekdays prior to the holiday will be the ideal time to travel. Another recommendation for taking a flight is to fly on the actual holiday. Not only will you find cheaper flights but you will avoid the long lines and hoards of travelers too. Our blog page provides travel companies that can help your find the flight that’s right for you.
8: Decide What Time to Travel
Planes that travel earlier in the day have a better on-time arrival performance according to flight statistics. If your morning flight is cancelled then you will have the option to take a flight later in the day. If you flight is later in the day and your flight is cancelled then you may have to stay overnight which can be very inconvenient. TSA Security lines are shorter in the morning and evening hours too. The best time for road travel is in the early morning hours, evening hours and overnight. If you don’t mind night driving then this is the ideal time because the traffic will be minimal and those you are traveling with will get more rest. As the driver you will have to rest when arriving at your destination. One other tip, if you prefer early morning driving then make sure you are not going through a major city during rush hour.
9: Plan for the Unexpected.
Think ahead and plan accordingly. Leave plenty of time before flights to deal with security and make sure to have extra time between flight connections. If you have flights connecting in a new country you may have to go through customs and possibly through security again before your continuation flight (this happened to me when traveling from the U.S. to Canada when I had to connect in Toronto for example). The key is to know before you go. If you are driving a few recommendations might be to pack tire chains for snowy conditions, a spare bottle of oil for the car, a can of fix-a-flat in case of a flat tire, the number for your automobile club such as AAA if you are a member, and a flashlight. Of course a few bandages and wet wipes never hurt. With a record number of cars expected to be on the roads this holiday season be prepared for traffic slowdowns caused by accidents, construction, and heavy traffic. Don’t be in a rush. Drive with caution, plan accordingly, and enjoy the journey.
10: Relax and Enjoy The Journey
The greatest part of traveling are the stories you will share with the family about the trip. You worked many long hours and saved money all year to spend vacation time with your loved ones. Relax and enjoy your holiday. As a travel professional that has spent a lifetime managing various companies in the travel industry, I ask that you please be kind and remember to thank the dedicated individuals who are kind enough to be working during the holidays to help make your holiday special. Unfortunately not everybody is on vacation during the holidays and these businesses are open and their employees are working to make your day with family and friends an enjoyable one and it should be appreciated.
Wherever your journey takes you this holiday season we want to wish all of our readers and followers a very Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and a prosperous New Year.
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Your Journey Awaits.
Wishing all of you a very happy 2018 and a year of prosperity and safe travels.