Are you ready?
The weather…the crowds…the cost! No one said holiday travel is easy—or a bargain.
But it certainly can be fun—and well worth the expense, whether you are aiming to share the holidays with family, have some fun in the snow with the kids or gather the gang on a cruise ship.
The key to a successful trip is traveling smart and planning for the unexpected. For example, many families don’t realize that travel insurance can help defray costs if weather strands you out of town or keeps you from leaving in the first place. That’s happened to me—more than once.
Especially over the holidays, book nonstop or direct flights, even if they cost more. You don’t want to end up stranded half way to your destination because of bad weather. And download your airline’s free app so you can track your flight and find out immediately if a flight is delayed or canceled.
Send the gifts ahead, too. Holiday travel is stressful enough without worrying about overweight bags or convincing a security screener to let that oddly-shaped package go without tearing off the holiday gift wrap.
Get to the airport especially early. You don’t want to miss your flight because of long security lines! (That happened to me one holiday weekend.) Nor do you want the kids to be starving when you board. Since you may not have time to wait on another long line to buy food, bring snacks or sandwiches and reusable water bottles you can fill after you get through security. (The kids can slap stickers on theirs from wherever you are going.)
Spring for a seat for your toddler or baby. Sure they can fly free when they are under two, but they are far safer restrained in a safety seat, the FAA says.
If you are driving, get those safety seats checked. (SeatCheck is a national campaign through which you can make sure your safety seat is installed properly.) Seven out of 10 children are improperly restrained without parents or grandparents even realizing it.
Also check your GPS before you leave to make sure it is the latest version. Don’t follow blindly either if it is taking you away from main routes. And if a new teen driver is part of the equation, invite her to drive part of the way. You want to be at their side when they have their first experience in snow or on the interstate. (Check out teendriving.aaa.com)
Make sure your cell phone is charged before you leave and just important, make sure the relatives know when to expect you. (They can call for help if they don’t hear from you on time.)
Speaking of relatives, you can de-stress the experience and turn an obligatory visit into a mini vacation if you opt to stay at a hotel and plan some fun activities while you are there. Go check out the holiday lights where you are visiting, make time for a special holiday display at a museum or head to a zoo or aquarium for special holiday festivities.
Most important, try to relax and enjoy the journey, no matter how long it takes. When was the last time you had so much one-on-one time with the kids?
The presents will be waiting no matter when you arrive.