10 Tips to Help You Survive Christmas Travel
6th Dec 2011
If you’re headed home or on a vacation for the holidays, it’s time to prepare. It’s no secret that the Christmas season is one of the busiest times of year for travel, but there are some things that you can do to make life a little easier on yourself. Whether you plan on flying or driving this December, take a look at these 10 tips for making your holiday travel a lot more enjoyable:
- Leave early and stay late. Avoid peak holiday travel dates by making arrangements to leave early and stay late. This year, both Christmas and New Year’s Day fall on a Sunday, which means that the weekends leading up to these holidays are likely to be overcrowded both on the road and in the airport. In order to avoid the worst of the holiday rush, do your traveling a few days in advance or few days after the holiday weekend. You’ll not only save your sanity, but also your wallet, by taking advantage of discount hotel rates and airline deals.
- Give your immune system a boost. If there’s one thing more stressful than traveling over the holidays, it’s traveling while you’re sick during the holidays. Avoid this unpleasant situation by taking care of your health in the days leading up to the holidays. Eat right, exercise, and load up on vitamin C. Your body will thank you.
- Ship presents both ways. With costly checked bag fees and airport security being what they are, shipping gifts both to and from grandma’s house is a good idea to help keep your bags light and your stress low. If this isn’t an option, try to plan some time to finish up last minute holiday shopping at your destination rather than trying to bring it all with you.
- Bring plenty to do. Between airline overbooking and weather and highway delays, there is plenty that can go wrong during holiday travel. Plan for long wait times by loading up with music, books, movies and games—the more the better. If you are traveling with kids, be sure to bring whatever they need to stay entertained while traveling. It’s usually a good idea to bring something they haven’t seen before, like a new book of puzzles, that can hold their attention for a long period of time.
- Pack for security. Many passengers’ number one complaint for airline travel is going through security. Make this process a little easier by familiarizing yourself with the regulations for what can and cannot be brought through checkpoints and packing accordingly. The TSA has some new procedures in place this year, so make sure that you know what to expect.
- Stay in a hotel. Staying in a hotel rather than your parents’ basement with 15 other relatives can save you a lot of headaches and give you your own space just when you need it. You can get great last minute hotel deals on some ultra-luxurious rooms for the holidays.
- Call ahead and confirm. If you have reservations with an airline or hotel, call a few days in advance to check that everything is confirmed. On the day of your flight, check that your flight is on time before you even leave for the airport.
- Use your best negotiation skills. Even with all the best preparation and planning in the world, sometimes things go wrong while traveling. If something happens to you—your flight is delayed, your luggage lost, your hotel puts you in the wrong room—remain calm. As much as you may feel like letting the gate agent have a piece of your mind, this is usually not the best way to get what you want. Try negotiating instead—if you are bumped from a flight, for instance, be nice but insist on getting compensated for your trouble.
- Prepare for the worst. Have the numbers of friends, family, emergency contacts, airline and hotels programmed into your phone. Make a plan for what you will do if your flight is cancelled. Is there another way to get to where you are going? Have these backup plans on hand.
- Rely on your friends and family. Christmas is the perfect time of year for both giving and receiving. Holiday travel can be made much less stressful if you rely on the help of your family and friends to make things a little easier on yourself. Have a friend drop you off at the airport, for instance, instead of paying for long term parking.
Follow these tips for a well managed holiday that, if not stress-free, is at least stress-reduced. Happy holiday travels!
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