Traveling during the holidays can be a nerve racking experience if you’re not prepared. Everywhere you go there seems to be hundreds of people rushing, honking, pushing and purchasing their way through the holiday season. If you plan on hitting the road or traveling away over the Christmas break, there are a few tips that may help keep ward away the scroogies.
That’s probably the A#1 all important travel necessity. Traveling during the holidays can mean spending some money and the last thing you want is to be broke in a strange place. Bring checks and credit cards too just in case something goes wrong.
2. Plan ahead.
Research on the web more about your destination before you leave. Find deals for hotel accommodations or good retail stores in case you have to buy last second gifts on arrival. This also includes choosing a good departure date. Airlines have been cram packed lately and this season is sizing up to be a rough one, so the earlier you get there the better. The day before New Years, for instance, may not be the best time to fly.
3. Boredom busters.
These come in handy, especially if you plan to fly over the holidays. The airports can tend to get way crowded and during the winter months, planes are more prone to delay flights. Sometimes delays can last for several days and it’s always good to have a crossword puzzle or book on hand to pass by those extra hours. The kids too will be grateful to have something to do. Affordable travel packs are available that offer as many as 12 games in one with magnetized pieces to avoid messes in the car or on the plane.
Whether your in a car or on a plane during your holiday travel, music is vital. The roaring of the engines in coach or the roaring of the kids in the back seat can make any traveling a pain, so it’s good to bring along favorite Cd’s or an MP3 player. The kids will love “A Charlie Brown Christmas” and chances are you will too. It makes a great soundtrack for those languid road trips to grandma’s house.
5. Location, Location, Location.
Where you go this holiday season can easily determine how much fun you have- or how much fun you wish you had. Look for unique destinations most fliers wouldn’t think to pick, or if your usual destination is a hassle every year, you may want to consider a different side of the family to visit this time.
6. Bring food, don’t buy it.
This is especially true on the road. During my road trip to Mexico we kept sandwiches and drinks in a cooler, only spending money on ice along the way. Worrying about clean food after crossing the border wasn’t a problem and I’m happy to say it saved me a lot of grief. Montezuma didn’t get me the whole trip.
7. Check the fluids.
Driving over the holidays can be dangerous, especially when the roads get bad. It’s important to air or even rotated the tires before setting out on a trip. Brake fluid, oil and coolant should all be checked before hitting the highway. There’s nothing worse than having a flat on Christmas.
8. Map it out.
There’s nothing anal about planning each stop along the way to your holiday destination. This goes along with planning ahead, but having a strict route fit with way points and a schedule will prevent a lot of tangles from happening.
9. Over pack.
It’s better to be safe than sorry. Having a lot of luggage may be a pain in the neck, but forgetting toothpaste or socks is definitely worse. Buying necessities on the road or at the airport can really add up.
Set an amount you’re willing to spend and do everything you can to stay in those boundaries. Impulse buying is as common as the flu during the holidays and refusing to splurge will save for more important stuff later. Selling grandma’s gift for gas or taxi fare is not a good feeling.
11. Bring a towel.
This is double important when kids are involved. Wet wipes and napkins will prove to be life savers when the spontaneous bloody nose or spill occurs. Without tissues or towels, you may find your car’s interior a different color by the time you get back.
12. Bottled water.
Forget paying for it, just bring a 20 pack of bottled water. Many times buying bulk water can be amazingly cheap and when the kids get thirsty, and a gas station is no where in sight, you’ll be thankful you brought them along. Throw a few in your purse or carry on luggage during flights to have no matter what.
13. Nicotine patches.
For those long non-smoking flights, a couple of these may help relieve some tension for smokers. Flights can be pretty stressful after all so keeping an addiction in check is better than having it take over.
This is everything from Pepto-Bismol to Aspirin. Over the counter allergy spray or a simple pain killer to knock out those jet lag headaches.
Don’t be in too much of a hurry to miss out on sleep. The whole vacation could be ruined by overnight driving or late nights, so pull over for a quick nap when you need to and if you’re flying, don’t be afraid to pass right on out. That extra bit of rest can help a lot.
Whether you’re on a plane or in the car, you’ll be glad you brought one. The kids will use it to nod out in the back and you’ll want to substitute it for those tiny air plane pillowetes.
Keep yourself or the kids in the mood by bringing along some candy canes or chocolate. Little treats like these can help hold over hunger and keep the stress level low, but be careful, some candies melt easily so it’s important to find some snacks that are as non-perishable as possible.
18. Feast before the flight.
Don’t buy airplane food if you don’t have to. Often times planes may not allow certain foods on the flight, but don’t be pressured to buy the cordon blue with synthetic salad- just stock up the stomach with whatever you can before you depart. This will also help you nod off during the flight.
19. Stay calm.
Things can get really crazy this time of year but keep your cool and things will work out. Airport terminals and roads are bound to be fraught with stress. Everyone may seem a bit snappy or impatient, but just remember they’re in the same boat as you- trying to get to where they’re going to visit family, relatives or friends.
20. Have fun!
Don’t make holiday traveling an errand, even if it’s for business. It’s the time of the season to be jolly- not get wound up in worries or particulars. Be sure to give yourself some sauna time at the hotel or a little eggnog here and there. The most important thing to remember this holiday season is that it’s the holiday season and it’s the time of year to form bonds with people, give gifts and enjoy Christmas with the family you love.