Holiday Travel Tips for 2016

The holidays are fun and exciting, but they can also be hectic. There are gifts to buy, decorations to put up, and food to prepare. These things are stressful enough when you’re celebrating at home, but they can be more stressful if you plan to take your holiday celebration on the road.

We know how hard it can be to arrange a family trip without a mishap here or there. That’s why we’ve come up with some suggestions to help you plan for flawless holiday travel.

Flying Travel Tips

  • Ship your gifts. Packing them takes up space and adds extra weight to your suitcase. It’s much easier to mail gifts to your destination.
  • If you have to pack gifts, don’t wrap them. If the TSA needs to inspect one of your packages, they’re going to have to unwrap it. Wrap gifts at your final destination.
  • Get to the airport extra early. It’s a good idea to give yourself extra time before a flight, especially during the holidays when airports are crowded.
  • Check in online. This will save you a ton of time waiting in line at the airline counter.
  • Print your boarding pass or use the automated machine at the airport. Most airlines let you print boarding passes from home. If you can’t, use the machines at the airport to print it for you. That way there’s no need to wait in line unless you’re checking a bag.
  • Speaking of bags, avoid checking one if you can. Aside from the possibility your bag will be lost, not checking a bag lets you leave the airport without waiting around the very busy baggage carousel.
  • Charge electronics before leaving the house. That way they’ll be ready to go at the airport.
  • Leave some room in your suitcase. Chances are you’ll be bringing back some gifts and will need somewhere to put them.
  • Make use of flight apps. Most airlines have apps that can provide updates, delay info, and more. Or you can use an app like GateGuru that does it all.
  • Fly nonstop if you can. Having a layover increases your chances of a delay or lost luggage. If you do have to have a layover, give yourself enough time for your connecting flight.
  • Catch a ride to the airport. Airport parking is expensive and will probably be full around the holidays. Plus, having someone drop you off at the door is a lot faster than parking, taking a shuttle to the terminal, and dragging your bags with you the whole time.
  • Relax, it’ll be ok. You can’t blame a delay on gate employees and you can’t blame a restless child on the flight attendant. Remember to be kind to those around you as the holidays are stressful for everyone.

Driving Travel Tips

  • Drive at night or early in the morning. You’ll come across less traffic that way.
  • Get your car inspected before you leave. Have a mechanic check the oil, fluid levels, brakes, tires, etc.
  • Plan for snow. If you’re going to a snowy location, you may want to invest in snow tires or all-season tires that are well rated for that kind of weather and travel.
  • Check for chain laws. States that get a lot of snow often have chain laws that go into effect depending on weather conditions. It wouldn’t be fun to get stuck, have an accident, or cancel your trip because you don’t have chains.
  • Have your route mapped out. Knowing where you’re going in advance cuts down on the chances you’ll get lost. It’s also a good idea to have some backup routes as well.
  • Keep valuables hidden in your car. Put them in your glove box or trunk to avoid opportunistic thefts.
  • Consider getting a roadside assistance plan. You can buy these through your insurance company or AAA. The great thing is they usually don’t require you to commit for any length of time, so you can cancel it when your trip is over.
  • Pack an emergency car kit. In case you break down or get stranded, have a box in your car that contains reflectors, flares, tow straps, a glass breaker, a windshield scraper, gloves, space blankets, flash lights, batteries, a battery-powered radio, sand or kitty litter (for traction), jumper cables, non-perishable food, and water.

General Travel Tips

The following are a few extra tips that can be applied to almost any trip, whether it’s by plane, train, or automobile:

  • Bring non-electronic entertainment. Staring at your phone or tablet gets boring after a while and if the batteries die, you’ll need something else to keep you busy. Pack board games, a deck of cards, some books, or crafting supplies to keep things interesting.
  • Purchase a rechargeable battery pack. These usually have at least two USB outputs and can charge your phone, tablet, or camera on the go.
  • Travel on the actual holiday. Flying the day before Christmas or New Years is often busier and far more expensive than traveling on the actual holiday.
  • Pack light. That way you’ll have less stuff to lose at your destination and less to put away when you get back home.
  • Book travel as early as possible. If you’re sure of where you want to go, booking flights, hotels, or rental cars early can save you some serious cash.
  • Buy earplugs. They make it easier to sleep almost anywhere.
  • Move around as much as you can. Whether you’re traveling by plane or car, you’re going to be cooped up for a while. Use downtime in the airport or at rest stops as an opportunity to stretch your legs.
  • Pack your snacks. Buying food on the road is more expensive and stopping frequently makes travel time feel much longer.

We hope you’ve found these tips helpful and we wish all of our friends, family, and clients’ safe travels this holiday season!