The European Christmas market in Passau, Germany
Save time, money and your sanity with these handy holiday travel tips.
Navigating a trip any time of year can be tricky. Throw in the holiday season and all that comes with it (extra travellers, poor weather conditions, overbooked flights, stress) and it can make you feel more manic than festive. But fear not! There are 10 ways to help keep your cool during this year’s holiday travels.
1 Plan ahead
Even if you’re jetting off on a last-minute trip home (or escaping from all the holiday frenzy), planning ahead is key. Know your route if you’re driving and do your research on traffic delays, tolls and possible weather issues. If you’re flying, brush up on your airports. Knowing your airport can save you time in the midst of the crowds and help you make your connection faster (you’ll also know where to find the best coffee, should you be delayed).
2 Use apps to stay organized
When you’re planning holiday dinner parties and mulling over what to buy your decorista sister, it’s easy to have some finer details fall through the cracks. Don’t let your travel plans be the one thing that slips. An app like gathers your travel information from your email (flight reservations and times, hotel plans, etc.) and stores it all in one handy place where it can be easily referenced.
3 Shut out all the noise
Treat yourself! If you’re hopping on a long-haul flight (or even being the passenger on a long road trip home), get some quality shut-eye with a little help from a cashmere eye mask and a blanket. This cozy, muted toned one should do the trick. Then simply insert your earplugs and hum yourself to sleep with your favourite Christmas tunes.
4 Have a backup plan
We live in Canada and weather delays are a given around the holidays. Map out potential stopping points if you’re taking a road trip, or even consider booking a hotel or bed and breakfast along the way just in case (many booking sites offer the option to cancel your reservation free of charge up to 24 hours before check-in time). If you’re flying, ensure you know what alternative flight times are available – that way if you do get delayed or bumped you can request another specific flight.
5 Deal with delays
The first rule of thumb is to always expect delays. If you don’t experience any delays, you’ll be singing ‘It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year’ like it’s nobody’s business. But if you do, the second rule is this: take a deep breath and be polite. You’ll be amazed at how being kind to an airline attendant during a stressful moment can help you resolve your dilemma.
6 Avoid peak dates
Be flexible with your travel dates and avoid the busiest travel days of the year (these are usually a few days before Christmas and a few days before New Year’s Day). You not only save the headache of crowds but you also save money (flights are cheaper on off-peak days like December 24th, 25th and 31st and January 1st).
7 Leave early
You’ll be so thankful you gave yourself an extra hour when you see the winding security line at the airport or the backed-up traffic trying to get out of the city. A little extra buffer time will equal less stress (and less stress means more festive feelings!).
8 Carry-on only!
What could be one of the worst situations while travelling? A lost bag. Airlines often over-sell flights during the holidays and travellers often pack too much, resulting in overweight luggage. That can equal a lot of bags not actually making it onto a flight. And that right there is enough to make me want to carry on my bag, but you can also save money (sometimes up to $50 round trip) since many airlines now charge fees for checked luggage.
9 The gift situation
Security workers at airports are not fans of gift-wrapped presents and could undo your gilded-bow-topped, perfectly taped handiwork in a matter of seconds. Plus, having security scrutinize your luggage even more means more wasted time. So leave your gift-wrapping until you get to your destination.
10 Get insurance
With all the possibilities of things that could go wrong during holiday travel, make sure you’re covered for the worst-case scenario. Many credit cards offer travel insurance, as do banks and conventional insurance companies. Double-check your coverage details (lost bags, flight cancellations, etc.) and keep the company’s phone number on hand for quick dialing in the case of an emergency.