Traveling can be stressful, and traveling during the holiday season even more so. The trick is to plan ahead, account for eventualities, be prepared and anticipate pain points before they happen. Sure, the travel experience can be unpredictable – preparedness goes a long way toward making sure your journey is smooth and your destination arrives quickly.
Plan Ahead, Plan Ahead, Plan Ahead
When going on vacation, why fly by the seat of your pants? Here are several ways you can plan ahead. Even though plans can change, having an idea of how you’ll get to your destination is wise. Here are some basic ways you can plan ahead for your trip:
- Make sure you have enough time between connecting flights
- Direct flights are better for families, even if you pay a little more
- Oil changes and tire rotations are a must for road trips
- Print out and study your itinerary
- Reserve rental cars, hotels and excursions far in advance
Leave Early, Arrive Early
During non-peak times of the year, the TSA recommends you arrive at the airport 90 minutes ahead of time for domestic flights and 120 minutes for international flights. Add another half hour to each of those times when traveling during the holidays. Note that traveling on the Thanksgiving or Christmas day itself is a great idea if you can swing it. Not only will you save money, but there will be far fewer people at the airport.
When road tripping, whatever time you estimate for arriving at a hotel or your destination, add a couple of hours to it. Traffic happens, kids will want to make pit stops, and sometimes you just need a snooze. No sense in driving fatigued.
Traveling with Family is Different than Traveling Alone
If you’re used to traveling solo for business, traveling with your whole family is a whole different ball game. Security at the airport takes much longer. You’ll be stopping much more often when driving. And siblings can fight, so forget about peace and quiet. Though you’ll be far less lonely, the travel will be much more chaotic, so be prepared.
Keep Your Cool
The other airline passengers and fellow drivers on the road are just like you: they’re just trying to get home to see family or friends for the holidays. It’s important to stay calm and keep a level head, even if you get cut off in traffic, there’s a screaming baby on the plane, your seat gets kicked, or a van full of kids is driving slow. Put yourself in their shoes. Would you want someone yelling or throwing gestures at you?
Don’t Overdo It
Don’t plan too many activities during the journey or after you arrive. Don’t drive for more than 12 or 14 hours without rest. (It helps to have multiple drivers that can alternate, if possible.) If you’re not used to doing a ton of walking, take advantage of those moving sidewalks at the airport and don’t be pressured into walking up the escalator if you need a breather. The goal is to have energy intact so that nerves don’t get frayed during the remainder of the journey.
It’s not the journey. It’s not the destination. It’s both. Take a deep breath, plan ahead and enjoy getting there and being there. It’s all part of this temporary mass migration we call the holidays.
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