Keep Your December Calm and Bright
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Each year at this time, starting around Thanksgiving, continuing through Christmas, and up to New Year’s Day, there are more people traveling than at any other time of the year. If you’re one of those people, whether you’re taking a Holiday Vacation to a Festive Destination or maybe to somewhere tropical, or if you’re journeying to visit family for a Holiday Visit, you’ll definitely want to know how to keep your trip full of fun and cheer, and avoid having it turn into frustration and chaos, right? (And honestly, even if you’re planning to stay Home for the Holidays, there are a few points in the following list that you’ll benefit from, too!).
After years of traveling during the busiest time of the year, Jamie absolutely knows all the best tricks of the trade for, not just surviving Holiday Travel, but enjoying it to the fullest, too. Here are Jamie’s Top Ten Holiday Travel Hacks to keep your Yuletide Journeys merry and bright!
Top Ten Holiday Travel Hacks
1. Plan Ahead
Planning Ahead covers everything from planning your whole trip in advance (keep an eye out for the first Inspiring Itinerary of 2024 for some truly Advance Holiday Vacation Planning for next Christmas Season) to checking the weather forecast before you make your final packing decisions. And there’s so much to Plan Ahead for in between, as well!
All Holiday Travel is made easier when you make your plans as early as possible (and with travel at this time of year so high in demand, prices get higher the longer you wait, not lower; “last minute deals” around the holidays don’t really happen). Then, once you have your trip booked, your planning ahead should include excursions and activities for wherever you’re going; of course, your favorite Love of the Magic Vacations Travel Advisor can help with wherever you want to go, and whatever activities you want to do!
As your trip gets closer and closer, you’ll want to plan ahead for whatever the weather will be when you pack; speaking of which…
2. Be Smart With Packing
When it comes to packing, there are some guidelines to follow no matter where you’re going or when you’re traveling. Be sure to pack versatile clothing, just in case of last minute changes in weather, even if you’re going somewhere tropical (not that you need to pack a snowsuit, but at least one pair of pants and a sweater or sweatshirt is a good idea in addition to your beachy attire like bathing suits and cover ups); likewise, if you are going somewhere cold, maybe to ski or to a cozy log cabin in the mountains, be sure to pack at least one bathing suit in case there’s a hot tub or indoor pool surprise!
In addition, don’t forget essentials like chargers, earbuds/headphones, medications and any important documents required for travel and any activities you’ll be participating in. And as always, if you’re checking any bags, be sure to pack a change of clothes in your carry on just in case your luggage is delayed.
3. Secure Important Documents
No matter where you’re traveling, you should always have copies of your ID packed somewhere different than your actual ID (if you use a wallet and/or purse to carry your ID, put a copy in another luggage item, such as your toiletry bag, just in case your wallet or purse gets lost, and if you’re just driving to visit family, stick a copy of your ID in the glove compartment or console, just be sure to lock your car at all time and remember to remove it after your trip).
If you’re traveling outside of the country, having an extra copy of your passport somewhere with your luggage is extra important. And, to be extra safe, leave a copy with family or friends who aren’t traveling with you, and take a picture of it on your phone, then save it to favorites for easy access.
Lastly, be sure to print out any vouchers for any reservations you may have, and it’s also very helpful to print out any itineraries from your phone or other devices, just in case you find yourself without internet service somewhere.
4. Take Health Precautions
Although health concerns used to be specific to certain areas around the world (such as needing a vaccine to visit, or being wary of drinking the water), the last five years have changed all that, and being mindful of health concerns is an important and necessary part of traveling anywhere now.
Be sure to check the local health advisories of wherever you’re going, and bring any required proof of vaccination (you can make copies of these too, and stash them with your other secure documents). It’s also smart to bring masks and sanitizer, just in case.
And don’t forget that it’s always helpful to pack a small first aid kit with bandaids, and antibacterial wipes/ointments, and the like, and also a water bottle to refill wherever you go in order to stay hydrated while traveling!
5. Stay Connected
Wherever you’re traveling, be sure to share your plans and itinerary with someone you trust, and have a reliable way to stay in touch while away. This might entail purchasing an additional phone or internet service through your provider if you are traveling out of the country, which you should look into at least a week before your departure.
Staying connected is especially important if you are traveling alone, or to a remote destination. Have a plan to text or email someone who is not traveling with you at least once a day, so they know to reach out if they don’t hear from you.
6. Be Patient and Flexible
If there’s one thing you cannot forget to pack when you travel during the Holidays, it’s your patience. Pack patience in your carry-on, in your backpack, and in your pockets, and reach for it and replenish it as much and as often as you need. You will save yourself so much stress and aggravation if you can arm yourself with patience and flexibility.
Maybe that looks like taking deep breaths if your flight gets delayed or if you’re sitting in traffic; maybe that means not flying in a seat next to your spouse so that a mother can sit with her younger children; maybe that means gate-checking luggage you planned to carry-on. Whatever happens, an open mind and heart will serve you better than rigid expectations.
7. Bring Plenty of Snacks and Entertainment
The tried and true lifesavers of travel, especially during the holidays, are snacks and entertainment for EACH person traveling with you; stressful situations like traffic and delays become exponentially worse when hunger and boredom kick in.
Being hungry (or should I say Hangry?) while stuck in a crowded airport with flight delays, or in a traffic jam, is the worst! And while buying a few special airport or gas station snacks as treats that you don’t normally have can be fun for a bit, they will only last you so long, and the price of more and more snacks as time ticks by adds up, and also adds to your annoyance at the situation. So be sure to pack some of your (and your kids’) favorite on-the-go snacks to keep everyone sane in the midst of possible travel chaos, whether you’re sitting in an airport or in a car, your stomach and your anxiety will thank you for packing those Popcorners and Milky-Ways.
And to keep the boredom at bay, be sure that EVERYONE in your group has their own preferred form of entertainment to keep arguments and frustrations at a minimum. Maybe for you, it’s that book you’ve been meaning to read (or even an old favorite), or maybe it’s downloading a few movies onto a device (to be sure they’re available even if Wi-Fi isn’t, which is especially important to remember for kids’ devices), or even a handheld game. If you’re driving, put together a playlist to keep you awake, or have a line-up of podcasts and audiobooks ready to go.
Travel days are out-of-the-norm experiences for everyone, so letting go of your usual everyday snack and screentime rules is helpful and often necessary (so let go of any guilt, and do what you need to do to survive the journey!).
8. Invest in Travel Enhancements
If ever there was a time to upgrade any of your travel necessities to make your trip easier, the holidays are definitely the time to do it! With the hectic nature of Holiday Travel, anything that makes your experience easier is well worth the investment.
If you’re flying, having Global Entry or TSA Pre-Check can make all the difference in wait times and frustration levels. It does take a bit of time to get approved with the background checks needed, but they are definitely worth having. If you don’t already have one of them for this year, and you know you often travel during the Holidays, take a minute right now to set a reminder on your phone to apply in June of next year, so you know you’ll be all set for ‘24 even if you have to grin and bear it for the rest of ‘23. Or better yet, just apply now, and maybe you’ll get a miracle for this year’s Holiday Travel.
Other Travel Enhancements can include renting a roomier vehicle if you’re renting a car for any part of your travel, purchasing premium parking, and even upgrading airline tickets and/or hotel room categories.
9. Don’t Be “That Guy”
Generally, if anything frustrating happens during your trip, like a delayed flight or heavy traffic, it’s not the fault of the people in your immediate vicinity, like the airline ticketing agents, or your family in the car with you, so try your best not to be “that guy” who just starts yelling. Honestly, we’ve all had our moments, and we’ve all done it, but with any stressful travel coming up, it’s worth consciously deciding NOT to be “that guy” during a stressful situation that comes up.
After all, I like to believe that most people are out there doing their best everyday, and that includes everyone who works at airports, and whose job it is to handle the chaos of Holiday Travel and help as much as they can. Yes, there is occasionally someone who seems determined to wield whatever power they hold negatively, but even a person like that might warm to a smile and kind attitude.
10. Always Find the JOY
When it comes to the Holidays, there are so many stressful things you can choose to focus on, or you can choose to focus on everything JOYFUL about the season, even when it comes to travel. If you can get into the headspace of accepting that everything will take some extra time, that there will most likely be delays and crowds, and if you can be prepared with the tips from above, then you will have a much easier travel experience. Then, if things somehow happen to go more smoothly than you expected, you’ll be pleasantly surprised instead of stewing in anxiety.
And if in a crowded airport, packed with people experiencing delays, you can choose to focus on having extra time to catch up with your favorite podcast, or in the middle of a traffic jam, you can thank yourself for remembering to bring your kids’ favorite snacks and downloading their favorite movies to their devices instead of cursing the brake lights in front of you, and if you can focus on the squeals of excitement from your children when they see their grandparents for the first time in months, whatever it took to get there will be worth it.
Then, when you’ve taken the time to plan ahead (and made any planning much easier on yourself by enlisting your favorite Love of the Magic Vacations Travel Advisor to help), and you’ve taken all the precautions, packed carefully and loaded up all the snacks and devices, and found a way to channel your patience and flexibility despite the stressors and chaos around you, it will be that much easier to find the JOY in the most Magical season of the Holidays.
In the end, the most JOY is found throughout the Holidays when you spend the season in whatever way is most meaningful to YOU, whether that’s cozied up with family, or sunbathing with your sweetheart on a tropical island! Mele Kalikimaka, Friends!
Ready to Plan?
Now that you have Jamie’s Top Ten Holiday Travel Hacks to guide you through this season, wherever you would like to travel for the Holidays, whether this year or next, I would love to help make your Holiday season the most Magical, memorable and Joyful yet! Email me today at email@example.com to get started planning, or click here for a free quote from me or your favorite Love of the Magic Vacations Travel Advisor!