Travel during the holidays can be panic inducing for even the most seasoned globetrotter. Long lines at the airport, potential for cancelled flights, and high travel costs can make anyone dread holiday travel, but we’ve put together a few tips to make your holiday travel go more smoothly this time around.
Pay Attention to Details
There are a lot of different moving parts that go into holiday travel, and it’s imperative to pay attention to the details to avoid frustration. When you’re worrying about gifts for each of your family members, flight travel, what to contribute to dinner, and how to handle the pile of work that’s amassing for you behind the scenes, it’s easy to forget the little things. We are big fans of creating lists and reviewing travel arrangements multiple times to avoid any missed details. Make sure to review flights or rental car info, create a solid packing list that includes all of your gifts, and have outfits planned for events you’ll be attending to make sure you have all bases covered.
Give Yourself Extra Time
You may be a check-in-an-hour-before-your-plane-takes-off type of gal, but when it comes to holiday travel, give yourself double or triple as much time as you’d normally need. TSA lines are notoriously bad during the holidays, check-ins are slower than usual, and winter weather means flights are often delayed or cancelled. Head to the airport early to give yourself time to check in, make it through security, and take note of gate changes.
You’ll feel about 100 times less stressed if you’re not racing to your gate—if you find yourself with a few hours to spare, consider treating yourself to an airport lounge visit. Many airline lounges let individuals to buy day passes allowing you to escape the madness of the terminal and enter a world of Zen complete with snacks and drinks. Lounge Buddy is a great resource if you’re hoping to locate a lounge in your airport.
These rules all hold true if you’re driving as well. Give yourself an extra few hours on top of your normal travel time to account for dreaded holiday traffic along with unexpected emergencies like a flat tire or severe weather conditions. Waze is a great app that drivers can use to find the best, most efficient routes (especially handy when bad traffic arises).
Plan for the Unexpected
While we can’t plan for every possible unexpected scenario that may arise while traveling, think of a few different game plans prior to your trip—it will save you a lot of extra stress. For example, if you know you’re going to be traveling on one of the busiest days of the year (when check-in lines are notoriously long), plan for curbside check in to avoid missing your flight. If there’s a chance you could be driving in rough conditions, make sure that your car tires are in good condition to withstand the journey. This will make things a lot easier and less stressful when emergencies inevitably do arise.
Mail Gifts Home
You’ll likely have lots of gifts for family and friends during this season and not a lot of space in your suitcase to house them all. When it comes to holiday shopping, try to make a majority of your purchases online and have them sent directly to your destination. You won’t have to try to remember if you’ve packed all of your gifts and your luggage won’t weigh you down at the airport.
If you have gifts that you absolutely need to travel with, wait until you reach your destination to wrap them. While wrapped gifts are allowed on flights, TSA doesn’t encourage bringing them, as they may need to inspect your items. This means unwrapping your beautifully wrapped box in the middle of the security line, holding up the already long queue, and, worst of all, you’ll have to rewrap your gift anyway. Sadness all around.
Schedule Time for Yourself
Once you arrive at your destination, whether it’s your childhood home or a relative’s, chances are you will be inundated with lots of questions about your life—with so many family members around, things can quickly become overwhelming. Don’t feel guilty if all of this family time makes you a little anxious; instead, make sure to plan some time to yourself in order to stay sane. Schedule in some time for a workout, a solo trip for a last-minute gift, or a long dog walk, and stick to it. While time with family (especially during the holidays) is precious, you’ll find yourself a lot more pleasant after you’ve taken care of your own mental health.