Traveling for Thanksgiving and Christmas can be so stressful sometimes! Although this should be a time for love and joy, if you aren’t careful, you could arrive at your destination feeling more like Ebenezer Scrooge than Santa Clause. Whether you decide to fly or drive, be savvy and avoid the stress of holiday travel mishaps with these 10 survival tips.
1. Keep your phone charged.
Smart phones these days seem to run out of battery power in the blink of an eye. Avoid this by investing in a backup battery source such as the CE Tech On-the-Go Power Charger. If you are driving with other people, charge multiple phones simultaneously using a device like this Multi-Use Vehicle Charger.
2. Travel when most people aren’t.
Avoid the crowds and even save money by flying the night before or on the day of the holiday. The day before Thanksgiving is the busiest travel day of the year, so fly early Thursday morning if you can. According to data from Kayak, travelers who flew close to or on the day of Christmas last year saved about 20 percent. If you’re driving, hit the road while everyone else is snoozing, which is early in the morning or late at night.
3. Protect your gifts.
Wrapped gifts may be subject to a TSA inspection at an airport, so either ship your gifts or wait until you reach your destination to wrap them. Gift cards are always an easy option.
4. Pack your bags wisely.
It can be quite expensive to fly with luggage thanks to all the fees airlines charge for checked bags now. If you can, pack lighter to fit everything into your carry-on. Compression bags are an inexpensive way to create space for your heavy winter items. Not only will you save money, you’ll avoid a long wait at the baggage claim. For your personal item, bring a small backpack – that way if you come back home with more than what you left with, you will have a bag to store those items in.
5. Don’t starve.
One quick way to kill your mood is an empty stomach. How can you concentrate on reaching your destination if your stomach is growling at you? Pack plenty of snacks and drinks for you and your fellow road trip mates. Everyone will thank you. If you’re flying, leave early enough to chow down before you board. It may be awhile before food is served on your flight.
6. Prepare your music.
If you use Spotify Premium, be sure to make your playlist available offline before you get on the plane and lose your connection. Don’t forget to pack those earplugs! They are necessary to drown out unwanted noise during both plane and car rides. Don’t let your trip be ruined by a loud passenger or someone else’s conflicting taste in music.
7. Plan ahead for the perils of winter weather.
If there is even the slightest chance that snow will play a factor in your travels – prepare yourself. If you can’t get a direct flight, book one that will give you extra time between your connections. For your road trip, pack a winter survival kit that includes a change of warm clothes, tire chains, ice scraper, shovel, flashlight with extra batteries, blanket, extra gloves and socks, booster cables, tow rope, gas can, tool kit, first aid kit, and plenty of water.
8. Download travel apps.
There’s an app for everything, right? There are tons of handy travel apps out there that can make your trip a breeze. If you have a flight to catch, get TripIt. This all-in-one travel organizer pulls flight numbers, gate info, and even loyalty program account numbers from your email receipts (download it: Android, iPhone/iPad, Blackberry, Windows). If you are driving, Gas Buddy will help you pinpoint the best gas prices along your route (download it: Android, iPhone/iPad, Blackberry, Windows).
9. Check in online.
The holidays are a popular time to travel and anything you can do (legally) to avoid long lines will help keep you from stressing out. Print out your boarding pass ahead of time to get to your gate quicker.
Understand that “stuff” happens. I’ve never had a perfect travel experience and that’s ok! At the end of the day, perfect is boring anyway. Take the spotlight at the dinner table with your awesomely crazy travel story. Without even realizing it, you will have given one of the greatest holiday gifts of all – the gift of laughter.