Christmas shopping is bad enough but having to travel during this busy season? Well, lets just say patience may reach its limit quickly. How do you handle the road, the air and the rails during the holidays? Here are a few tips we have worked out that just may help.
Prepare Think about the things you will need and make a list. First of all, however you travel make a care package for yourself and family. Munchies and water are in high demand. We love to make our own mixture of nuts, raisins, cranberries and of course chocolate. Its cheaper to do this on your own than buying a goodies that are pre-mixed. You can add your faves or get creative as you want. If flying you can pick up water after you pass through security although most flights have complimentary water.
Pack light No matter how you travel the lighter you go the lighter the stress. I remember the days of large suitcases and 2 free checked bags. Nowadays, it can go upwards of $25 per bag at check-in. Besides space becoming so limited less is best.
Arrive early Even for domestic flights I like to make sure I’m there 2 hours prior to the flight. You just never know if traffic is going to back up even if the roads look clear before you leave home. Check your tires and oil before leaving. You don’t want any unfortunate or unexpected problems like flat on the way there. Also make sure you fill up your gas tank the night before you leave so you won’t stress having to wait in long lines to get gas that can throw off your schedule.
Book early Don’t wait until last-minute to book your flights for the holidays. If you do there’s a good chance you will be staying home or may have to drive long distances to see family. A good time to make your reservations in between 6-3 months out. Sign up for Airfare Watchdog alerts, when a discount rate comes up they will send you an email. A little hint: flying Christmas or New Years day will help avoid crowds and may get you a better price. Try to not to fly on peak travel days.
Let everyone know Send and itinerary to your family and friends who you will be visiting so they know what day and time you arrive. If someone will be picking you up at the airport or rail station let them know of any delays before departure so they won’t have to wait long. You are allowed to use your cell before take off, it’s a good time to inform them of your flight status. In case of phone problems that can so often arise at times make sure everyone has flight numbers so they can check with the airline direct for delays.
Take a trip to the post office If you will be gone for more than a few days make sure you stop your mail the day you leave then have it delivered they day or day after your return. No reason to take chances with stolen mail or nosy neighbors!
Print those tickets Check your flights 24 hours prior, most airlines allow for check-in and printing your boarding passes at home. During the holidays it could take hours in line at the check-in counter at the busier airports.
Wait to wrap If you are flying don’t wrap your gifts, the airlines need to inspect all wrapped products. I know how crazy things can get when you get to your destination, hugging and catching up with your family. You won’t be in the mood or have time to wrap your gifts anyways so here is a little hint: Put the presents in gift bags instead. Slip them out as you pass through security then off you go.
Insure it If you are traveling by car make sure you have your car insurance information along with phone numbers. As extra precaution take along your medical cards also.
Early Bird If you really want stress free driving leave very early in the morning. It’s amazing how empty the roads are at 5 a.m.! I find I become energized watching the sun come up with my favorite music playing in the background. Its sounds horrible and exhausting getting up that early but really, it’s not bad and something I look forward to. One more thing, check the weather the day before you leave so you know what to expect.
A few more quick tips before you go:
- If you live in cold weather areas leave water running so your pipes don’t freeze
- Bringing your camera? Charge up your batteries before leaving and don’t forget to bring your charger
- Find all your charging devices for computers, notebooks and phones etc.
Most of all calm yourself as soon as you start to fret. Turn on soothing music or sit down with a cup of tea and relax. Don’t worry it will all turn out fine and put your mind to enjoying your time with your family and friends over Christmas. And have a merry, cheerful one!