It can be wonderful to get away from home for a few days (or even longer) over the holidays. In some cases you might be jetting off to visit family somewhere. In others, you might be heading south or toward the nearest beach in order to find a little bit of mid-December sunshine. And in still other cases, you might take the opportunity to take a bigger trip and voyage overseas to somewhere you don’t ordinarily have time to go.
The only problem is that traveling this time of year can also be very stressful. Airports and highways get crowded, there can be complicated logistics involved if you’re also trying to plan holiday celebrations, and then of course there are ordinary travel concerns to keep in mind. So how can you enjoy a holiday season trip without all the stress? We’re not sure it can be done completely, but if you keep these tips in mind you may at least avoid the worst of it!
1. Send Gifts Ahead
This is perhaps the most common tip out there for holiday travel, but it’s one that can’t be drummed in enough, because it makes a whole lot of sense. Particularly these days when more people are shopping for gifts online anyway, there’s simply no sense in trying to haul your holiday presents along with you (in what may wind up being an extra suitcase or two). Instead at least if you’re traveling domestically, buy gifts online and address them to the place where you’ll be spending your actual holiday. On a related note, you can actually do the same with food items if, for instance, you’re flying to a relative’s home and you feel you’d like to contribute to the hosting effort. These days there are numerous places to buy quality meats online, as well as services that provide charcuterie, cheeses, snacks, etc. – all of which can be a nice touch when sent ahead.
2. Travel At Odd Hours
This is easier said than done, because a lot will depend on your personal schedule and the type of airfare you’re able to get. But to whatever extent possible, try to travel during odd hours. A lot of families find that highways and airports are crowded no matter what this time of year. In fact, even small roads around town seem to clutter up throughout December. It’s just the way it is. But if you can book a flight in the middle of a workday, or late at night – or if you can hit the highway early in the morning or take shifts with other family members driving late into the night – you may avoid the worst of it. It can seem a little inconvenient, but in the long run you’ll be saving yourself time and avoiding stress.
3. Splurge On Airport Luxuries
There’s a misconception that the luxuries some people enjoy at the airport are exclusive or somehow unavailable. Perks like TSA pre-check or even access to the lounges for priority customers are actually surprisingly affordable in some cases, however, and can almost make getting through an airport pleasant. Ideally you’ll be getting to your airport well in advance of boarding time just to be safe. Then, however, if all goes smoothly, you can simply pop into a lounge, relax in comfort, and maybe have a drink while you wait for boarding time. Pre-check, meanwhile, speeds you right through security, and a membership is almost worth the price for a single trip during holiday season.
4. Go For The In-Flight Movie
An in-flight movie is always a nice way to relax on a plane, and let’s face it – it’s not exactly easy to take a nap or get any meaningful work done anyway! This time of year can be particularly fun in this regard actually, as planes will frequently show some of the best films from the past year, or even last year’s Oscar winners. For instance, on a flight this holiday season you might finally get to watch Moonlight, the Oscar winner that barely even touched a lot of popular theaters. Or you might have a carefree watch of La La Land, which was predicted to dominate the Academy Awards before Moonlight swept in. The point is, there are usually a lot of very good selections this time of year, and watching a good movie during your flight helps you to relax, recharge, and put the stressful parts of the trip behind you.
5. Make A List & Check It Twice
Okay, we’re borrowing this cute phrase from the Huffington Post, which stole the line from Santa Claus. It’s a basic tip, but maybe the easiest to follow, and possibly the most consequential. In any travel situation, forgetting something can totally derail your trip (or at least cause undue stress); with holiday travel, the concern over this potential is amplified. So take a page out of Santa’s book and write up a detailed list, in advance, of everything you need to do and pack. Check it before the travel day arrives, add to it as needed, and check it again multiple times as you travel. You’ll be glad you did.
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