Don't let the thought of traveling during the busiest season of the year dissuade you.
If you've got big plans to hit the road or the skies for the holidays, it doesn't have to be too stressful. Just follow our list of helpful holiday travel tips to take some of the hassle out of your trip. From common sense to hacks, these holiday travel tips will help you stay sane as you travel from destination to destination.
Helpful Holiday Travel Tips to Reduce Stress and Increase Fun
All good things start with a positive attitude. But we understand that can be easier said than done when battling crowded roads and airports. So no matter how far you're traveling or how you'll be getting there, let's go over some useful holiday travel tips.
Keep the following pointers in mind to put everything in perspective. And if you've got the right outlook, even a crowded flight and gridlocked traffic can be a great adventure. These holiday travel tips will help you make the most out of whatever happens.
1. Prepare For The Worst
Let's start with the obvious for our holiday travel tips. If you're traveling around the holidays, you can expect congestion. You might end up in an airport under the assumption that everybody else in the city had the same idea. But if you take the roads instead, you'll realize there are plenty of motorists taking trips, too.
So if you're realistic about that from the start, you'll have a much healthier expectation. Don't count on perfection. That should be the case no matter when you're traveling. But especially during this time of the year, it might be more hectic than you would prefer. Expect huge delays and frustrating traffic jams. And there are a couple of major reasons that is sound advice.
If your forecast comes true, at least you were prepared for it. But you might end up being pleasantly surprised. Leaving early and preparing for slow travel could end up getting you to your destination ahead of schedule. And that will only set your holiday trip out on the right foot. So whether the worst comes true or not, you'll be ready to roll with the punches.
2. Pick Your Travel Times (And Dates) Carefully
Even if you do prepare for long lines, there are some steps you can take to put the odds in your favor. All year round, there are some days and times that are statistically less crowded. These are also often among the least expensive times to travel.
The differences between days can be quite pronounced. Saturdays can be less expensive than Sundays, which are often among the most crowded airline days. But during the holiday season, this can be a little more difficult to predict.
Experts recommend traveling on Christmas Day, if that makes sense for your plans. Most folks are already settled in by then. So whether you're arriving or leaving around December 25, it might make sense to travel that day. Carefully arranging your itinerary is one of the most helpful holiday travel tips.
3. Make Your Reservations Online
Since airports are packed around this time of year, you'll probably want to limit the number of stops. And that includes finalizing your travel itinerary at the airline counter. Fortunately, most carriers now offer much of that functionality online.
Sure, you might have to stop by a kiosk to print your passes or enter in some final information. But that can be a lot less intrusive than waiting in a long line to speak to an employee. We recommend taking care of this step regardless of when you're planning a flight. And it's all the more helpful if you know ahead of time you'll be pushing through a bustling airport.
Be forewarned, however, that it might not always be as simple as it sounds. Some airlines offer online features that others simply don't. And certain carriers just have a more user friendly interface through their websites. So check all of this out ahead of time. And you might want to check out reviews of the features you'd like to use. The more you can take care of at home, the better off you'll be.
4. Look For Discounts
Maybe you're expecting to spend more on your travel plans. But that doesn't mean you have to resolve yourself to shelling out extra cash for everything else. There are many special holiday season deals you might not have expected, and one of our favorite holiday travel tips is to scout these discounts out.
Check online for the things you'd like to do on your trip. You might find that retailers are attempting to earn your business through some great deals. Companies know shoppers are going to be out during the holidays. And they're trying to get as much business during the crowded season as possible.
Maybe it's a retail shop with great deals even after Black Friday. Or it could be shows, restaurants or other excursions during your trip. You might also find some discounts this time of the year through your credit cards or other memberships.
5. Stay Charged Up And Connected
Staying in touch during the holidays is important. And it's especially vital as you travel. So don't get caught with a dead device. Make sure your phones are charged up completely before you set off on your trip. But our list of holiday travel tips also includes carrying along a portable charger.
There are some great high tech options to take with you on the road or aboard a jet. You'll also be glad your devices are fully charged for other reasons. With smartphone technology where it is today, you can basically plan your entire outing on it.
So we recommend keeping all the important information where you'll have easy access. This will include information about your flight and accommodations as well as pertinent phone numbers. If you're like most of us, you'll want the security that your high tech device can provide.
6. Maintain A Flexible Travel Schedule
If you really want to make the best of your trip, you should remain as flexible as possible. Of all our holiday travel tips, this one will help you save time and potentially even money. Even if you have your heart set on leaving and returning on specific days, take a second look. It could be that your plans could be shifted slightly to avoid a lot of headache.
But we're not only talking about the schedule itself. You might consider rethinking your mode of travel. If it makes sense to drive instead of fly, you can keep control over the trip. You might determine that the gridlock traffic isn't worth the effort. But it really pays to consider all your options.
Finally, think about where you'll be staying. Are you bunking with family or friends? Staying at a hotel? We think you should make every effort to pick the place that will make your stay more comfortable. It's your holiday, after all. And sometimes the choice of accommodations can make or break your holiday vacation.
7. Keep A Positive Attitude
This might be the most important step of all. While you might not be able to change the circumstances of your trip, you can control your reaction. Try to remember the reason you're traveling in the first place. Maybe you're visiting relatives you haven't seen all year. Perhaps it's just an opportunity to get away from the daily grind for a while.
In any case, you can determine your response to any possible pitfalls that arise. One of the best holiday travel tips is to maintain a positive attitude and try to keep a smile on your face no matter what. Yes, things will probably not always go according to plan. But if you've followed all of our holiday travel tips to this point, you know how to handle it.
And in the end, pushing through the crowded airports and roads is imperative. You're not going to get where you're going if you don't deal with what's in your way. So you might as well keep a sense of humor. If you're traveling with others, play some games, tell some jokes or plan your next stop. And even if you're by yourself, you can listen to your favorite podcasts or otherwise entertain yourself.
8. Maybe You Don't Need To Travel At All
If all else fails, consider a staycation. Of course, this might not be feasible if you're heading off to a big family reunion. But it could mean the end to all of the aforementioned hassles of holiday travel.
First of all, there's no concerns about what to pack and how to pack it. If you're close to home, or not even leaving, you'll have access to all of your stuff. But the time off can give you a chance to recharge without adding to the stress.
We know traveling is a big part of a lot of families' holiday plans. But that doesn't mean it has to be part of yours. Only you can decide what is right for you and those you want to spend the season with. So if our first seven holiday travel tips didn't do it for you, maybe it's time to consider number eight.
The holidays can be a lot of fun, but the travel part of the equation often is not.
But there are several things you can do to keep your sanity as you head to your destination. We hope our list of holiday travel tips has taken a bit of the stress out of your plans.
If so, share this article with the travelers in your life. And leave us a comment below if you have any final thoughts or questions about these holiday travel tips.
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