7 Helpful Hints for Making Your Holiday Travel Go Smoothly
The busiest travel times of the year are here, so a little planning, patience, and flexibility can go a long way toward making your holiday travel seamless—whether you’re escaping to a quiet getaway or heading home to visit the family. These seven pro tips can help you make the best of your journey.
Book as Early as Possible
It’s far better to book your travel in advance and be guaranteed a spot than to wait in hopes of a (probably non-existent) drop in price. When it comes to booking vacation travel, the insider secret is that there are no last-minute deals. Really. On these travel days, every flight and train and rental car is going to be fully booked. That goes for hotels too, so please don’t hold off because you think you’ll snag a last-minute deal.
Plan to Travel on Off Days
If possible, don’t travel the day before a holiday or the Sunday after it. This goes for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve, whether you’re driving, flying, or taking mass transit. You’ll simply be rushing into the perfect storm of vacation travel stress – higher prices, less availability, endless waiting in lines, and milling around with packs of increasingly irritated people. Instead, traveling the day of a holiday can mean lower prices, more options, and less crowds.
Leave Plenty of Time for Connections
The easiest way to make sure you don’t miss your flight is to think of the earliest reasonable time you could possibly be at the airport, and then get there another half-hour earlier than that. Check in the night before, try to carry on instead of checking your bags, and if you’re traveling with kids, take advantage of the normally shorter family security lane, if available. Better to waste some time yawning at the airport than to sit stewing in a taxi while you’re stuck in traffic.
When it comes to packing, use a light touch. You don’t need to bring six sweaters. Or five pairs of shoes. Overpacking just leads to overweight luggage and the resulting baggage fees. Plus, you have to lug that heavy, bulging suitcase all around during your holiday vacation. Pack lighter, move faster.
Bring Along Some Diversions
Despite your best attempts, your travel plans may get delayed anyway. Even if you think that everything will go off without a hitch, plan on bringing enough distractions to keep you (and your family) occupied. Download some magazines and games on your tablet or smartphone, and if you get jammed, you’ll at least have something to look forward to. If you’re stuck at the airport, consider joining your airline’s club lounge for the day; for a few dollars you can at least relax in luxury.
Prioritize Your Health & Comfort
The happy holidays unhappily happen to coincide with the dreaded cold and flu season, so it’s a good idea to wash your hands as much as humanly possible and carry hand sanitizer everywhere you go. It’s always wise to bring along a soft cardigan or travel blanket (the kind that folds up into a small purse); keeping even mild chills at bay goes a long way to staying healthy. And by now, shouldn’t every traveler have an inflatable neck pillow?
Purchase Travel Insurance
A lost passport. A missed airline connection. A broken leg. There are many reasons to purchase travel insurance. Minor (delayed suitcase) or major (medical emergency), if something goes wrong, you want expert help fast and to know somebody has your back. It’s simply the best bargain in travel.
Take advantage of your travel consultant's expertise to make the most convenient plans for you – and keep the “happy” in “Happy Holidays!”