The holidays are notorious for expensive and time-consuming travel catastrophes. Relax — there are still deals out there and if you plan well, the stress and uncertainty of travel can be minimized.
- Before You Leave
Prepare your home for safety while you are away. Turn the heat down to 55 degrees, since there’s no need to waste fuel. Consider setting automatic lights to turn on and off in different rooms of the house to imply that someone is home.
If you have a security system, verify that everything is operational. Check alarms, cameras, and motion detectors. Have a neighbour, friend, or relative stop by occasionally to check on things, especially if you will be gone for a long time.
If you’re driving, have your car fully serviced and carry an emergency kit. Complete any necessary maintenance and most importantly, check your tire inflation. Your emergency kit should include a spare tire, a tire jack and lug wrench, jumper cables, a bright flashlight, and a first aid kit.
- Pack Wisely
Either shop online and ship gifts to their recipients, or ship things home yourself — but don’t pack gifts or souvenirs because they add extra size and weight to your luggage. If you really must transport them, use gift bags because airlines require items to be unwrapped.
Airlines charge for anything besides carry-on bags and even those have size limits. Be aware of the TSA regulations limiting the size of carry-on containers of liquids. Liquids and gels can only be 3.4 ounces each and all must be packaged in clear bags. You can carry containers of liquid onto the plane after you go through security, but if you wish to transport larger containers, you must check your bag.
- Schedule Well
Avoid the peak travel days at airports. Wednesday and Sunday are the busiest and things are the most expensive around Thanksgiving. The days change according to the calendar for Christmas. Travelling on Thanksgiving, Christmas, or New Years Day usually costs less and is far more relaxed.
If driving, those same days are impacted on the highways as well. If you cannot avoid those days, the best advice is to leave early, anticipate the congestion, and take it easy. You’re not in a race!
- Travel at Night or Early in the Morning
Airports are least congested when most people would rather be at home or asleep. Flight delays are far less likely early in the morning, and airports unclog in the early evening.
The same goes for auto travel at night. The driver must be capable of driving alone because others might fall sleep but traffic simmers down at some point after dark. A careful driver arrives in less time and is probably safer.
Sometimes the unexpected happens away from home. What do you do if someone becomes ill? Where do you go? Who can help? Find a team you can trust.
Wherever and however you intend to travel for the holidays, remember that you are going to have a good time. Relax, enjoy the trip as part of the experience, and stay safe.