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Ensuring Holiday Travel Goes Smoothly: Plan for the Unexpected

This blog post was updated on October 9, 2018.

The holidays are a time when we all want to travel.  Either we have time off work to hit an exotic locale, or we just want to be reunited at home with loved ones.


Whatever the reason, it is for sure a time when high stress and high travel demand can lead to problems.


After you’ve booked your cheap flights, to make sure your holiday travel goes smoothly, you must plan for the unexpected — even when you think nothing could possibly go wrong.


When Christmas dinner with your mother-in-law is waiting at the table, you want to make sure you’re there on-time and in proper working order (not stressed), right?!


Planning for holiday travel should involve consideration of the following:


Road Trips: If you’re taking a good old-fashioned road trip to Grandma’s house for the holidays, then you need to consider a number of factors, but most importantly — traffic and weather conditions.  For many, holiday travel time is limited and it turns out that many people might set off on their road trips at the same time!  Think about this when planning your route.  Can you leave in the early morning hours instead of peak traffic times?


The holiday season falls in the winter months for the majority of those in the Northern Hemisphere, which means weather might not be at its best.  Are you allowing for sufficient travel time in case weather goes bad?  Do you have an alternative destination to default to in order to celebrate the holidays (one mid-route to your initial destination) in case the weather gets horrible?


Flying: Hanging out in airports near the holidays can be stressful on its own.  For one, it might be jam-packed with people — some perhaps stressed out because their flight is delayed.  There is also a chance that you might be one of those people on a delayed (or canceled — let’s hope not!) flight.  Do you have a backup plan?  Do you have a carry-on bag with a change of clothes in case you’re stuck in the airport and would like to freshen up to lighten your mood?


The earlier you can leave before the holidays, the better (obviously), in case you have an unforeseen delay.  Make sure you have your necessary documents on hand, and that you aren’t trying to carry too much in your carry-on as it can cause issues at either check-in or when you get on the plane.  You may want to look into travel insurance to help cover any lost costs.  When it comes to flying around the holidays, however, the best thing you can do is expect it to be a bit of a stressful time.  If there are delays in the airport, people will be on edge.  Take it all in stride.


Do you have any tips for preparing for holiday travel?  Share them below by leaving a comment.


CC Flickr photo credit: Owen Byrne 

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