Stress-Free Holiday Travel Tips
The holiday season is always a hectic time of year to travel, and with severe weather happening all over the country, getting home to see loved ones is as difficult a task as ever! Here are some tips from travel experts in the industry to help make this holiday season as stress-free as possible.
1. Be smart about the flights you book if you're traveling with children.
Choose flights that coincide with nap time (if your little one sleeps in transit, lucky you!). Avoid early morning departures and late night arrivals to minimize next day melt downs, says Shawna Huffman Owen of Huffman Travel.
2. Plan ahead.
The best hotels and resorts run at 100 percent capacity during the holidays, so it's more important than ever to make reservations early - dining, spa, and activities. Don't wait until the last minute to book your tennis lessons or you may find yourself disappointed. One of the indulgences I look forward to on a family vacation is an hour in the spa," says Huffman. "There is nothing more frustrating than not being able to get a spa appointment and during the holidays -- last minute appointments are next to impossible!"
3. Leave early.
During peak travel times, much of the trouble you'll face lies on this side of the security check-in, from traffic jams and full parking lots to missing shuttles and long lines, says travel expert Kendra Thornton. Leave for the airport early to anticipate all the unexpected delays that you may encounter.
4. Pre-reserve airport parking.
There are a number of companies that offer advanced online reservations of airport parking so you are guaranteed a spot the day of your travel, says Thornton. Some companies that work out of most of the national airports are Park N Fly or Park Ride Fly.
5. Pack wisely.
In the past, you may have been able to fit everything into your carry-on without having to check any baggage. However, the TSA rules about liquids and gels make this a trickier proposition, warns Thorton. For the record, you may bring liquids and gels in 3.4-ounce or smaller containers, packed within a single, quart-size, zip-top, clear plastic bag. If you want to bring more than the 3.4-ounce amount, you'll have to pack the items in your checked luggage.
6. Put wrapped presents in your checked luggage.
If you're carrying them on then do not wrap them. Wrap them when you get to
7. Check in before you arrive at the airport.
"Checking in at the airport is becoming quicker and easier these days thanks to technology. Doing this can save you some time, and aggravation especially during the busy travel season," says Ali Genç, Ph. D. Senior Vice President of Media Relations, Turkish Airlines. Depending on which airline you're traveling on, you may even be able to use a mobile boarding passes through Apple's Passbook application, which means you can forego the check-in counter and instead head straight to the gate.
8. Copy Your Passport if you're going abroad.
"If you're traveling internationally, make sure your passport is stored in an easily accessible compartment in your carry-on bag." says Genç. "It's also a good idea to make a copy of your passport before you leave for the airport and keep it separate just in case you misplace your passport while on your trip."
9. Set the stage before you leave.
"Most kids don't transition well, and I find that often parents are better prepared for what's ahead than kids," says Huffman. Wherever you plan to go, start the education before you leave. Find a DVD or book to help kids begin to what they can expect on the trip. Try foods from the places you'll be traveling--make it fun! For older kids, talk to them about the time difference and encourage everyone to set your watches on the time of your destination as soon as you leave home for the airport.
10. Bring distractions for your children.
If you're traveling with children, remember to pack a lot of snacks and bottled water. Bring wipes to make clean up fast and easy. Also bring games, playing cards, technology gadgets and iPads so they can stay entertained during long lines and delays.
11. Keep kids busy.
"My motto is that for anyone under the age of 5, have a new 'distraction / toy' every 30 min of your flight," says Huffman. "Whether it be a show on iPad, a coloring book, a magnetic travel game...kids get bored fast so make sure you have a well stocked backpack!" And definitely don't forget the snacks!
12. Preserve your memories.
With a little foresight, you can help preserve your memories for years to come, says Huffman. Think about giving your kids a blank journal and double stick tape. What they do with it is up to them. "I suggest giving your kids a camera to capture their favorite moments and see the world thru their eyes & perspective," she says. "Once you're home, Mac makes it incredibly easy to put your digital pictures in a custom photo album that is a great keepsake. I
also love to keep a large map at home to track where we've been and where we
hope to go."