Friday, December 21, 2012

Traveling for the Holidays

As if wintertime itself isn’t a big enough excuse to get out of town, the holidays provide special reasons to travel, like enjoying the sights, and spending the holiday with loved ones.

Simply getting away from it all is a great reason to travel this time of year. I have a cousin who enjoys taking cruises with family during the holiday season, whether tropical or a trip to Disney. One of my braver friends is visiting South America over the holidays.

If you plan on traveling over the holidays, be forewarned that the airport is likely to be packed and storage space on flights could be limited. Many people will be in a rush, too, scrambling to get here or there, to buy this or that. These tips can help you survive the craziness of holiday traveling.

Traveling by Plane

Flying can be a bit more stressful around the holidays due to the mass volumes of travelers and the urgency to get to their destinations on time. Flights may be fully booked and seating your family together might be difficult. Even if you book seats together for your family, your airplane flight could still change at the last minute, leaving your group separated across different rows.

Make a list for packing and check with your airline first
to see what you can fit in the overhead compartment.
International air travel may also become more complex, due to already busy airports fielding many connecting flights to get all the travelers to their holiday destinations. Should you choose to fly internationally, or on any flight requiring a connection for that matter, be sure to pack a carry on bag with your essentials—medicines, a change of clothes, and other must-have possessions. This way you can still make it through the day if you and your checked luggage get separated. The Federal Aviation Administration gives great tips about your carry on bags. Always be sure to check with your airline to verify what you can bring with you and how big the carry on can be.

Keep an eye on fares to ensure you get the best deal possible. Look for online coupon codes and check top deal sites to help defray the cost of your travel. Realize that the cheapest flights may not be the “best” flights—you may find yourself on the red eye on Christmas Eve, having a long lay over between flights, or multiple connections.

It's natural to be anxious if you are separated from your family on a flight. If you aren't able to get seats together with your family or significant other, or if your seats get moved around at the last minute, ask the agents to see if they can find any seats together. Sometimes other passengers will switch seats with you, especially if children are likely to be separated from parents. For additional tips on airline seating, here are some tips for getting seats together.

What to Pack for Your Holiday Trip

Packing is always the fun part! It can take some time, though, and if you rush, you definitely increase your chances of forgetting something important. Make a list for packing a week or two before you travel. This will ensure you bring everything you need, and keep that list so you can use it for packing for the trip home.

Consider these other packing tips for your holiday travel:

Check with TSA regulations
before packing carry on bags.

  • If you don’t absolutely need it, don’t pack it. The lighter (and fewer) your bags, the more easily you can move about the airport. Remember, the larger the carry on, the longer it takes to screen it, making the security lines move slowly.
  • Consider bringing some small snacks in your carry on bag in case your flight gets delayed. Try granola bars, trail mix, and individually packaged snacks. Check with TSA to see what is allowed on flights.
  • Bring magazines, an mp 3 player, and other small, containable items to hold your interest.
  • Bring your health insurance information, your FamilyWize card for discounted prescriptions, and any important medicines or medical supplies.
  • Follow all TSA regulations to minimize delays and loss of personal property. Be aware of what you can bring and what must be checked or left at home. 
  • If you plan to bring gifts with you on the plane, consider wrapping them once you get to your destination, as TSA reports that they may need to unwrap a gift if it does not pass through screening.

Whether you are planning a trip home for the holidays or a relaxing vacation away from the daily grind, holiday traveling can be a lot of fun—especially once you get through the actual traveling part! Holiday breaks to tropical destinations, fun-filled cruises, and other getaways may be the best way to decompress after a long and tedious year, before we get ready to do it all over again.

What are your plans for travel this holiday season? Share any of your favorite winter travel tips in our comments below!

By Kathryn M. D’Imperio
Contributing Writer

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