Holiday Travel Tips to Save your Sanity and Your Wallet
Holiday travel. Isn’t it ironic how something that should be so enjoyable and rewarding also has the potential to be so emotionally and financially depleting?
Long road trips, delayed flights, crowded airports, sibling squabbles, extra expenses and unexpected setbacks are all ingredients in what can be a recipe for disaster. It’s true, sometimes you need a holiday from the holidays.
This doesn’t have to be your experience. Whether traveling by car or plane this Thanksgiving or Christmas, here are a few travel tips to save your sanity – and hopefully your wallet too!
General Tips for Holiday Travel
Don’t Travel on Peak Days – The Wednesday before Thanksgiving and the Sunday after are the most popular days for travel, along with Christmas Eve. Opt to travel at less conventional times to avoid the traffic and the throngs.
Book Ahead – Purchase plane tickets and make hotel or rental car reservations well in advance. Not only will you save money, but you’ll also avoid sold out flights and no vacancies. Plus you won’t be rushing around at the last minute.
Allow Extra Time – Whatever your plans, always plan for the unexpected by giving yourself plenty of cushion – another good reason to travel on off-peak days.
Have a Back Up Plan – If you’re driving, investigate alternative routes beforehand in case you run into road construction or heavy traffic. If you’re flying, have a list of alternative flights and connecting cities in case flights are missed or cancelled.
Traveling by Car
Get a Check Up – Be sure to change your oil, check fluids and tire pressure before you hit the road for optimum performance and gas mileage.
Don’t Forget the Refreshments – You’ll save a ton of time and money by bringing your own snacks and drinks. Remember to pack items that aren’t sticky, messy or full of sugar.
Limit Liquids – No one likes stopping for 20 bathroom breaks. Consider bringing grapes to quench thirst instead of water, juice or soft drinks. This is especially helpful when traveling with small children.
Keep ‘em Entertained – Along with electronic devices, plan ahead and pack travel games, coloring books and crayons, maybe even a few surprises.
Fun Idea: Beforehand, pack a bag with enough wrapped surprises to be opened every hour of the trip. These should be items that can be shared such as a pack of gum, a new DVD, a travel game, etc. Allow children to take turns choosing a surprise from the bag and sharing with the others, but only if everyone is being kind and getting along.
Be Prepared – Don’t forget your first aid kit, complete with anti-motion sickness medication. Also, bring along extra paper towels, sanitizing wipes and plastics bags in case of spills or accidents.
A New Take on Rest Stops – Take a little extra time for a pit stop by packing a picnic lunch and playing a game of Frisbee. Everyone will return to the vehicle stretched and in better spirits.
Traveling by Plane
Choose Your Seats – Opt to fly with an airline that allows you to choose your seats so you can ensure that the whole family sits together.
Avoid Ticket Lines – With modern day technology, there’s no reason to spend time waiting in ticket lines. Check into your flight and print boarding passes at home. Then check your luggage curbside where there’s usually no wait.
Check Your Flight Status – Before leaving for the airport, check the status of your flight to make sure it’s on schedule.
Arrive Earlier Than Normal – Be sure to arrive at least two full hours before your flight leaves. Due to the large crowds, it often takes longer to get through security, not to mention maneuvering around people to get to your gate.
Carry Essentials – If you’re checking baggage, be sure to carry essentials like a change of clothing and prescription medication with you in your carry-on bag just in case your luggage gets lost.
Ship Gifts in Advance – If at all possible, consider shipping presents ahead or order online and have them delivered to your destination. This leaves more room in your luggage and also protects them from becoming lost or damaged. If you must travel with gifts, do not wrap them. While wrapping is allowed, they may need to be opened by TSA or baggage clerks.
Bring Your Own Snacks – Avoiding buying snacks from airport vendors can really save your pocketbook. TSA guidelines now allow you to carry on certain types of food like cakes, donuts, bread, meat sandwiches, nuts, etc. You just want to avoid foods that come in the form of liquid or gel. You can check the TSA blog for more information.
With a little forethought, holiday travel can actually be an enjoyable experience and a chance to spend a little extra time together. It really comes down to this: Plan ahead, be flexible and most importantly, always maintain a sense of humor.