Millions of travelers take to the roads, rails and sky in the days surrounding major holidays. While a large percentage of people travel miles and miles to visit with friends and family members these times of year, others use days off from school and work as prime times for vacations.
Holiday excursions can be exciting, but they may require some extra planning and patience. Larger crowds at airports and more cars on the roads can make holiday-timed travel challenging. Make these trips memorable by reducing travel-related stressors.
Study your travel options to determine the best way to get from point A to point B. Weigh the cost of your trip as well as the time involved in traveling. Driving may seem like a good idea if you don’t want to stretch your budget, but it may eat up too much of your vacation time if you’re traveling long distances.
If you will be flying, learn the airline baggage restrictions and the security measures in place at your departing airports. This makes navigating the airport that much easier.
Planning well in advance also enables you to get the best prices possible. A study by CheapAir.com found that those who booked tickets for domestic travel 49 days prior to departure saved the most money.
Develop a contingency plan
Even the best laid plans can go awry. Know what to do in the event a particular rest stop or scenic spot along the way is closed or if travel plans get delayed or rerouted. Certain travel apps provide real-time updates on delays or provide gate numbers prior to arriving at the airport. Other apps indicate which gas stations have the lowest prices or which rest stops offer the cleanest bathrooms.
Take your car in for a tune-up
Drivers should make sure their vehicles are in good working condition prior to departure. More cars are on the roads during holidays, and that means a greater potential for stop-and-go traffic, which can put added stress on the vehicle. Make sure your tires are properly inflated and in good condition to avoid flats or blowouts, which can delay your trip.
Ship gifts or keepsakes ahead of time so you do not have much to lug through airport terminals or rail stations. If you must take gifts with you, wait until you arrive at your destination before wrapping them, as this makes items easier to inspect.
If you’re going on vacation instead of just a weekend getaway, you will probably return home with more items than you brought because of gifts or souvenirs. Pack an extra tote bag or an empty carry-on suitcase where you can store extra items accumulated on the trip. Otherwise, see if these things can be shipped home. It may be cheaper to ship items than to pay airline baggage fees.
It’s often quicker and less stressful to travel during off-peak hours when roads and airports are less crowded. Off-peak hours include overnight, early morning or late evening. Red-eye flights or off-peak travel times also may be less expensive.
Travelers looking to avoid crowded roadways or airports may also want to avoid especially popular travel days, such as the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. Leave a few days before a major holiday or arrive a few days after to avoid the crowds.
Travel with your own snacks
Failure to eat or drink can do more than lead to hunger pangs and dehydration. It can make the body sluggish and may affect your ability to deal with minor (or major) irritations. Pack nutritious snacks and take breaks to refuel your body.
Remember your destination
If you find holiday travel stressful, focus on the comforting thought that once you get to your destination you can kick back and relax. Do not overbook your trip and leave yourself time to unwind and decompress.