Photo Credit: Josh Sorenson, Pexels
November is officially here, which means people are amping up for the holiday season. Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s are the busiest travel periods of the year in the United States. People head to airports and bus and train stations or pack up their cars for road trips to visit relatives, enjoy a getaway with their partner, or indulge in a solo trip. Regardless of where you’re headed, taking some travel and planning tips into consideration can help ensure you have a relaxing, stress-free holiday vacation.
When choosing a time of day to travel, opt for early or late in the day when airports and roads are less crowded and delays are less likely. Also, avoid peak travel dates to stay away from crowds and save money. For example, the day before and the Sunday following Thanksgiving are the most crowded and expensive travel days. Traveling on Thanksgiving Day is typically more affordable. The peak days for Christmas and New Year’s depend on which day of the week the holidays fall. The most expensive and crowded dates are generally the days that allow people to maximize long weekends while avoiding taking time off from work. Note that smaller airports have fewer flights and typically experience fewer delays.
Comparison shopping is easy, provides more options for travel times, and saves you money. Whether you use booking sites like Orbitz or search sites such as Kayak, you can save money on everything from hotels to car rentals to activities. Many sites allow you to search nearby airports or adjacent dates to discover even more options and savings. Consider choosing a package deal if you need a combination of air travel, car rental, and lodging. The bundled pricing can be highly competitive during the holiday season.
Another way to save is to travel by charter bus instead of flying. Charter bus travel is a great and affordable option if you’re traveling with a large group. It’s also a much less stressful experience than dealing with a crowded airport and risking delay. And since you won’t be in a packed plane, you won’t have to concern yourself with how much luggage you can bring. You also won’t have to worry about baggage claim, or even worse, that the airline lost your luggage.
If nonstop options are available, select them. Connecting flights increase your chance of delays, which will create unnecessary stress, especially if it’s in a location where you have no home, friends, or family to which to retreat. If layovers are unavoidable, allot some extra time for flight delays and weather troubles. “Avoiding really tight connections might save you a sprint through the terminal or a missed flight,” says SmarterTravel.com. Also, choose connections in places that are less likely to experience delays, like airports in warmer climates or smaller airports.
Make sure you follow all TSA rules to speed up the security process, but you should still be prepared for increased wait times at security. Save time at the airport by printing boarding passes at home or having them pulled up on your smartphone. Because overstuffed bags that are opened for a security check are difficult to repack, just avoid overpacking from the get-go. Also, most airlines charge travelers a fee for checking any bags on domestic flights, so try to trim your luggage load.
Consider having your gifts shipped directly to your destination to cut down on your luggage load and remove the chance of them getting lost or damaged. If you do bring them on the flight, skip wrapping as they may be unwrapped for inspection. Or you can use gift bags instead of wrapping paper if you won’t have time for last-minute wrapping when you arrive to your destination.
To ease your mind while you’re away, hire a pet sitter for any pets that you’re leaving behind. If you’re bringing your pets along, be sure to brush up on proper etiquette for traveling with pets. Taking home-security measures can also ease your mind while you’re away. While you should obviously lock all of your doors and windows, don’t forget to secure the garage, remove valuables from your yard, and pick up hidden keys. Also, keeping up with lawn care, setting up light timers, or hiring a house sitter can make your home look occupied.
Before heading out, ensure you have phone numbers for everything, including the hotel, car rental agency, airline, etc. Also, download your airline’s app so that you receive alerts about delays or gate changes. Lastly, remember to stay calm and considerate. The amount of people traveling is drastically increased during the holidays, but everyone has the same goal of getting to their destination safely to enjoy the holidays. With a little planning and a good attitude, you can experience a relaxing and stress-free vacation.
With SpiritFinder, Ms. Scott offers a forum where those living with anxiety and depression can discuss their experiences
The PRC Blog
Here, the PRC staff teams up to provide our views and advice on common mental health issues.