No matter how much you plan or prepare, there’s no avoiding it: the holidays are stressful. Dealing with family, planning activities, spending lots of money – it all can take a toll.
Traveling around the holidays adds a whole other layer of stress too. It’s expensive, it’s hectic, and many times, stuff goes wrong. If you have to travel for the upcoming holiday season, here are tips to help it go smoothly.
Plan for the worst
This isn’t to sound negative, but sometimes bad stuff happens. Here are some ways to be prepared:
Bring an extra change of clothes in your carry-on bag in case your luggage gets lost or delayed.
Have a credit card handy, just in case.
Arrive everywhere early to avoid stress
Pay extra for a direct flight to avoid layovers, delayed flights, plane transfer issues.
Have a plan B in case something goes wrong. Y Travel Blog even suggests having an alternative airport in mind. “You can often experience less delays and get cheaper deals, not just on fights but on rental cars and transfers as well.”
Give yourself wiggle room in your plans
Canceled flights, bad weather, lost luggage – it happens. Give yourself wiggle room in your plans in case you need to change your itinerary. Most people have a small window of time they get off work, but if you have an extra day or two to spare, start your trip a day earlier than planned. That way if something happens, it doesn’t affect your plans.
Splurge on the travel insurance
Traveling for the holidays cost hundreds to thousands per person. Why not spend a few more bucks for peace of mind? Travel insurance is relatively cheap, and it can save you the stress of worrying about losing money when a problem arises. There are a lot of travel insurance options, and they start at really reasonable prices. Reviews has a great guide to buying insurance too.
Invest in Global Travel or TSA Precheck
The lines inside airports are insane around the holidays. Having TSA Precheck or Global Entry will help you bypass some of those lines. As Reader’s Digest explains, ” You can save yourself a lot of time and security line headaches by applying for TSA Precheck. You’ll skip the longest lines at security and get to keep your shoes, jackets, and belts on. The $85 fee covers you for five years, and if you’re a parent, your kids 12 and under can go into the Fast Pass line with you too.”
Prepare for downtime and boredom
Have entertainment handy in case you’re stuck somewhere, or you’re spending hours sitting around. Download books, podcasts, Netflix movies, or different apps to help pass the time. And don’t forget your chargers! The Planet D also brings up that downloading entertainment ahead of time can save you money when you get on your flight. “Many airlines are now charging for entertainment and often times if they do offer inflight entertainment, it doesn’t work of the selection is awful.”
Consider 0ff-peak travel
Most traveling around the holidays have concrete plans on Thanksgiving or Christmas Day. If you don’t, consider traveling during off-peak times. For example, visit your family a week or two before or after the exact holiday. Flights, hotels, and car rentals are all less expensive. The airport will also be less hectic.
Author Matthew Kepnes says in Travel+Leisure to go to less popular destinations. “When you think about Christmas, New Years, everyone wants to go someplace warm, so you tend to see higher prices in like Florida, the Caribbean, as well as Mexico and Hawaii. So I like to think… go where people don’t go.” He adds, “My favorite places to go during the holiday season is where everybody does not go.”
Avoid human interaction
Sometimes the most frustrating part of traveling is dealing with other people. Minimize this by avoiding them altogether. Use travel apps, upgrade your flight online, pay to check baggage on a website, check-in online, ask questions on social media – These are all fast, low-maintenance way to get stuff accomplished.