The holiday season is the most wonderful time of the year. It’s also one of the busiest. People from all over the world are driving and flying to visit and be with family and friends. It’s estimated that between 40-50 million Americans will be traveling for the holidays this year. That means more cars on the road, busier airports and more chances for mishaps to happen. Holiday travel doesn’t have to be a headache. In fact, with these tips you can get through the season and all the travel it comes with completely stress free.
Be strategic about WHEN and WHERE you fly
Flights leaving early in the morning are always always always less likely to be delayed. Getting up at 4am to catch a flight may sound brutal at the time, but getting to where you’re going without delays or problems will be something to celebrate.
If you’re flying into a big city check the rates for smaller airports close to that city. You may be able to score a deal and save yourself the headache of navigating a big airport like O’hare in Chicago, or JFK in New York.
Be an early-bird
If there was ever a time to be ridiculously early for a flight, the holiday season is the time. It’s estimated that 48.6 million Americans will fly this holiday season. Airports will be busy and the people working at the airports will be stressed. Do not be that person who rolls up to the airport 1 hour before your flight and then is super upset when security lines and such are extremely long. Get there early, get through security and then reward yourself with a cocktail at the airport bar.
Download your airline’s app and/or sign up for text alerts
This really is a game-changer and a life saver. The best way to stay up to date on any changes with your flight is to download your airline’s app. This is useful for a lot of reasons but my favorite thing is being able to have my flight itinerary right at my fight tips instead of having to scroll through my e-mail and pull up my flight confirmation number and details. I am also a big fan of text alerts. I flew to Florida a few weeks ago and got a text alert saying my flight was going to be delayed before it was even posted at the airport. Talk about being in the know!
You should get an e-mail 24 hours before your flight takes off saying that you can check-in. You can also access your boarding pass right on your phone, which means you can skip stopping at the kiosk at the airport and go right to security. This is perfect for me because I am the worst at keeping a handle on my boarding passes. something about it being a little flimsy piece of paper that makes me always misplace it. With your boarding pass on your phone that is completely taken care of. I’m a millennial, clearly I’ll always know where my phone is, right?
I don’t even remember the last time I checked a bag at the airport. After spending several hours at an airport and then on a crowded plane being able to bypass the luggage claim carousel will feel like a blessing from on high. Plus, as we learned above, this is a likely time of the year for flight delays. Flight delays or flight changes nearly double your chance of having your checked luggage lost or sent to the destination.
Ship your gifts or go the gift card route
Don’t be a hero and fly with all your gifts. It is truly not worth the hassle and the worry that a gift may be broken or ruined on arrival. Arrange to have your gifts shipped to where you’re going ahead of time OR, even better, go the gift card route this year for gifts. Who doesn’t love a gift card!? I would not mind one of these or one of these as my christmas gift!
Get social – social media that is
If you run into a problem with an airline at or the airport, save yourself the headache (and the automated recordings) and get on social media. Tweet your airline and tell them your problem or ask for help. It is crazy how fast companies/airlines will respond to a problem when it’s out there for the whole world to see. I have done this several times and I always get help/answers super fast.
Stranded? book yourself a room.
No matter how well you prepare and pack, weather is unpredictable and flights will get delayed. This is just a fact of life. If you find yourself with a cancelled or delayed flight don’t settle for the airport floor. Nothing will put you in a worse mood the next day then a horrible nights sleep or a kink in your neck from awkwardly using your carry-on as a pillow. Book yourself a room, get a good night sleep and get up and at ’em again tomorrow!
Make sure your car is mechanically sound
Get your oil changed and make sure your windshield wiper fluid is full. If your car has any preexisting conditions (like the heat not working, or the tires being worn) get it taken care of before you head out on the road. You never know when something could go wrong and you won’t want to be dealing with it on Christmas morning on the way to Grandma’s house.
Fill up with gas the night before you leave
After getting everyone and all of their luggage packed up into the car and ready to go, how brutal will it be to see the “check gas” light on in your car before your trip even gets started? Filling up the night before means there’s one less thing to worry about the day you leave.
Pack your car efficiently
I have to admit I’m not always the best at this one, but I am improving! Keep everything you could possibly need during the trip at a close reach. Keep suitcases and things you won’t need until you arrive tucked furthest away in the back. Nothing is more annoying to me than when I need something, but it’s allllll the way in the back of the car tucked under a heap of other luggage.
Keep your appetite in check
The hangry struggle is real (at least with me it is). Pack snacks and beverages and keep them at close reach (see point above) to keep yourself from getting hangry during the drive. I always pack my own refillable water bottle during road trips and refill it at gas stations. Which brings us to my next point…
Plan your stops & do double duty
I have to give my fiancé the credit for this one because he is all about planning our pit-stops in advance. If you’re stoping every 2 hours for random reasons your trip is going to drag on and on. When you stop for gas, always use the bathroom (even if you don’t have to) and grab any snacks you may need. This saves you the hassle of stopping again in 2 hours because you have to use the bathroom.
You guys, this is huge! The biggest complaint people have about road trips is that they’re boring. I hear you and I completely agree! You can only listen to the radio for so long before you start hearing the same songs over and over and over again. Come prepared with different activities to do. I am a huge fan of audible during car rides. I 100% recommend this book on Audible. Read my review and you’ll find out why!
If not everyone in the car is keen to listen to a book, pack your kindle or a regular ole book or magazine. Last but not least, stock your iPad with shows or movies to watch.
If I’m spending more than 4 hours in a car I always bring a blanket and a pillow. When you’ve done everything you can to make the trip more enjoyable and your still struggling a nap is just what you need to relax and make the time go by faster. I just got this blanket as a gift and it is the softest most amazing thing that has ever touched my body.