Holiday travel is something that most of us simply cannot avoid - but it doesn't have to be stressful...in fact with these tips we bet you'll find that holiday travel can actually be enjoyable and even exciting!
1. Don’t Travel on Peak Days
You've probably heard it time and time again, but the advice remains valuable - avoid traveling on peak travel days, and times, if at all possible. For example, for Thanksgiving it's the day before Thanksgiving and the Sunday after - so if at all possible try the days surrounding those. You'll often save so much on airfare that you can afford another night stay in a hotel or enjoy a nice dinner out with friends and family. Think of it this way - it's an excuse to take another day off work and enjoy time with those you love AND you'll be saving money...it's a win-win.
2. Leave Lots of Extra Time
Travel during the holidays is just plain busy - there are more people on the roads, in the parking lots and in the terminals so plan for plenty of time so that you are not frantically rushing around. So plan to leave your home earlier than you normally would, whether it's for a road trip, driving to the train station or heading to the airport - trust us, you'll want to leave some extra time. The last thing you want to do is start your holiday vacation feeling rushed and panicked because you ran into traffic congestion, a crowded train station or (our least favorite) long security lines at the airport. Instead, arrive and use the extra time to relax, grab a bite to eat, a cocktail, read or listen to music or even enjoy some terminal amenities like a manicure or massage.
3. Pack Light
Packing light is going to save you time on multiple fronts; first is that you can skip that line to check your bags and head straight to security, next is that there is no chance your luggage (and gifts in your luggage) will be lost, third is that if there are unexpected cancellations or travel changes you'll have everything you need with you and lastly is that you'll save those baggage and excess baggage fees.
If you feel like you just can't fit it all ship a box ahead of you to your destination with some of your lighter weight bulky items, it will likely cost the same as a checked bag but will save you the headache on the day of.
4. Get TSA Pre-Check
The amount of time TSA Pre-Check will save you in security lines is worth every penny of cost and time it takes to get it. Not only will you be able to skip the long security lines for the, typically, shorter TSA Pre-Check but you'll also get to skip taking out all of your liquids, your laptop, taking off your shoes & belt etc. That alone is worth it!
5. Reserve your airport parking in advance
Not all airport parking allows for you to reserve in advance but some do, and it's worth the time to check if your airport parking does. If the airport affiliated lots don't offer it check around at the private lots to see if they do - even though they may be located a bit farther away many of them offer convenient shuttles to the terminal and having a secured spot is worth the extra distance.
Plus, if you're following our advice you are already planning on leaving early so this shouldn't change your plans to much.
6. Pack Headphones or Earplugs
Earplugs can be a lifesaver on long flights and in busy terminals because they allow a way for you to mentally escape from the loud, and likely stressful surroundings of travel either with music or just the calming silence of your own thoughts. Screaming baby on the flight? Earplugs will fix that. Is your little brother's video game sounds driving you nuts? Tune him out with your own music. Airport terminal sounds stressing you out? Float through listening to your own jams.
7. Bring Snacks
The last thing you need to be, or anyone traveling with you for that matter, is Hangry. So make sure to take snacks with you for your travels, and don't buy them in the airport because you're going to pay way too much for them, so stock up beforehand. Things like granola, granola, dried fruit, granola bars and candy are great to pack with you. It's also a good idea to bring a re-fillable water bottle, and most airports and travel stations offer water bottle filling stations so you can save the money of buying it in the terminal and the unneeded calories from sugary drinks.
8. Be Smart About Holiday Gifts
If you are going to be traveling on a flight for the holidays it's definitely a good idea to ship any presents ahead of you, or to shop online and have them delivered. With so many sites offering free shipping this really should be a fairly simple thing to do. This will not only save you space in your luggage but it will also prevent the chance of your gifts getting lost, stolen or broken.
9. Have a Backup Plan
Chances are something is going to go wrong, not as you had expected it to or will have to change and you won't have any control over it. So instead of being surprised and frustrated with changes, plan ahead. If you are driving make sure to have a map and to notate any construction or needs for alternate routes, if you are traveling on the train make sure that you notate alternate times in case your train is late or cancelled, and if you are flying make sure that you are familiar with the airport and the surrounding areas in case you are delayed and need to stay overnight.
With these tips you are sure to be prepared for everything that could come your way during holiday travel - and if you haven't booked your holiday travel yet or holiday vacation contact the experts at South Seas Adventures to help you!