Easing the Stress of Holiday Season Travel

A pair of passports tucked inside a purse next to a holiday wreath.

Halloween is OVER?! Where does the year go? I’m sure you’ve noticed all the stores are decked out with cornucopias, turkeys and Christmas décor. The holidays are here, so says all the retailers, and I know, I know...they start earlier and earlier each year! Someone like me, just getting back from a 5-day trip to Mexico, definitely isn’t ready for the holidays.

And where are you heading this season? Maybe trying to cram in those last-minute vacations, possibly a big family Christmas trip or maybe a turn-up for New Year’s somewhere exotic? I look at my own travel plans and think, I will be spending lots of time in the airport... Thanksgiving in Portland, Christmas in Texas and New Years in Cartagena! I’m not stressed yet but with all the hustle and bustle, here are some ways to help you stay calm this holiday season.

Make a List & Check It Twice

Who cares if you were naughty or nice. Check to make sure you have everything you need before jetting off to your destination. You won’t forget the big things but don’t overlook the smaller items like your charger and memory cards for your camera. If you are traveling abroad this season, make sure to pick up a power adapter and check your passport to make sure you’re good to go.

There are new rules that will affect many states in 2018, even if flying domestically, so make sure you have proper identification (just get a passport already!). Make a photocopy of it and stash it separately in case it is lost or stolen. I always take a picture of it with my phone.

Remember to pack some extra essentials in your carry-on bag in case of a flight delay, and of course necessities such as medications. In fact, packing an extra shirt in your carry-on is a great idea at any age. I always carry a pair of comfy shoes too (among other things).

Travel Light

Traveling light is another way to reduce stress, not just for the airport, but especially if you’re taking public transportation to your hotel. Fewer bags and smaller suitcases will make the going much easier. You might consider shipping extra bags ahead of your travels. The cost could be similar to what some airlines charge for additional luggage.

If you’re bringing gifts, (oh how I love the gifts) either send them ahead or keep them unwrapped until after you go through airport security because if further inspection is required, they’ll be opened by airport screeners. I say ship to location or wait until you get there to buy. I know a lot of people who have started opting for gift cards nowadays and I see why.

For extra peace of mind, consider buying a tracking device for your luggage. If it goes missing, you’ll be able to trace it on your smartphone.  There’s an app for that.

Get a Room...and Some Upgrades

If the thought of getting up and rushing off for an early flight makes you cringe, consider staying at an airport hotel the evening before. (That’s me, I hate those mornings). It’s a great way to start things off on a relaxing note, stress free and free parking and extra perks. You can have a nice dinner, get a good night’s sleep and catch the shuttle in the morning, avoiding rush-hour traffic. It’s perfect. Slow and steady wins the race.

Which leads me to my next point, during the holidays more than ever, give yourself time. Security lines might be insane. Make sure you arrive early and expect the worst or at least get like me and secure a Global Entry/TSA pre-check pass.

If you’ll be spending a lot of time at the airport, or if you’ve got a long flight ahead of you, consider splurging on a day pass to the airline lounge or even buying an upgrade to a premium seat. Lounges usually offer complimentary beverages and light snacks, high-speed Internet and at some locations, even showers. They can be a great place to relax away from the crowded waiting area. Most people have access to this perk and don’t even know it. Are you a flight rewards member? Delta? Southwest? United? American? They all have one.  One of my favorite apps to help with this is LoungeBuddy. #TravelLikeAVIP.

Speaking of VIP... holidays can be a headache, crowded airports and delayed flights, more passengers with smaller kids.  So a nice seat is a nice treat, especially on a long flight. Spend the extra money and upgrade your seat. You’ll have more room and, if your seat reclines all the way, it’ll be easier to sleep on the plane. If you want to travel luxe, check out some tips for saving to get the upgrades you deserve.

I know this is just the beginning of the official “Holiday” season but I wanted to share a few quick tips to help you jumpstart this busy time.

If you haven’t gotten your flight already don’t panic; check out a few of my TravelBash favorites: Skyscanner, Hopper or Kayak to help save on the cost but remember the most important part of the season is spending time with your nearest and dearest.

So, take a few extra vacation days, enjoy the time with the ones you love, explore a new place and inspire others to celebrate more through travel this season.

Eat, Drink, & Be Merry