The holidays conjure up idealistic images of hearth and home and making our way to see those we love and wish to spend the holidays with.  From Thanksgiving through the week of New Year’s, travel statistics skyrocket and millions of American’s take trains, planes, and automobiles home for the holidays.  How can we be smart about traveling this time of the year?  Here are My Top 10 Holiday Travel Tips.

  1. Plan Ahead – Be sure to book your flights or train tickets early for the best selection and rates. Check rates for flights from different airports near you for savings. Compare round-trip flight rates versus one-way flight rates.  Register for TSA PreCheck a few weeks before your flight to reduce your security checkpoint wait time. Make an advance reservation at your airport parking place.  Buy travel insurance ahead of time.  If you’re traveling by car, be sure to have your car inspected by a trusted auto mechanic to ensure your car is ready for the trip. Check your car’s antifreeze and windshield washer levels.  Plan your route and check out good places to stop for rest and food. Pack healthy snacks and drinks.  Be sure to include a little extra time to stop and see an interesting sight along the way to break up a long trip and add more interest to the trip for kids.  Get your prescriptions refilled ahead of time and pack your medications in their original bottles.  Notify your bank and credit card company ahead of time about your travel plans.  Pack your mobile device chargers.  Use your Hurley World Travel Packing List.
  2. Prep Your Home and Pets – Add timers to indoor lights throughout your home.  Arrange to have your mail and newspaper held while you’re away.  Turn off the water to your wash machine.  Ensure appliances are turned off.  Check locks on windows and doors and ensure outside lighting is working properly.  Notify neighbor about your travel dates.  Make reservations to board your pets ahead of time to ensure space is available.
  3. Travel Off-Peak, Early, Late or On the Day – No matter your mode of transportation, leaving early in the morning or later at night provides you with better airfare rates or less traffic on the highways.  Consider driving a scenic route with less traffic instead of heading out on I-95.  Traveling on the actual holiday, instead of the day before or after, will give you lower airfare rates and fewer cars on the roads.
  4. Allow Enough Time – Be sure you allow enough time for various parts of your trip to avoid rushing and increasing your stress level. Always pad each trip segment with additional time to allow for delays in flights, traffic, and inclement weather.
  5. Ship Gifts Ahead – Instead of packing gifts in your luggage, ship them ahead of time to your destination. Keep your gift wrapping simple and add bows and ribbon after you arrive.  If you have to pack your gifts, don’t wrap them ahead of time.  The TSA has the right to inspect your luggage and will unwrap your gift to inspect it.  Consider shopping online and having the gifts wrapped and delivered to your destination instead of your home.
  6. Keep Holiday Germs Under Control – With all the people traveling through airports, in planes, at restaurants, stopping at restrooms, etc. you can expose yourself to a lot of germs.  Protecting yourself from coming down with a “holiday bug” means taking a few steps to reduce your risk and that of your family.  Here are a few reminders:  Wash your hands frequently.  Wipe off airplane seats, armrests, tray tables, and seat belts with an antibacterial wipe.  Stay hydrated.  Consider using saline nasal spray on dry airplane flights to reduce the risk of airborne germs.  Eat properly.  Get rest.  Needless to say, stay away from sick people.
  7. Travel Safely – Keep your eyes open when you travel. Be aware of your surroundings and the people you’re coming into contact with.  Keep your money in a safe place.  Protect your handbag, knapsack, and suitcases. Don’t leave your bags unattended.  Ensure those you’re traveling with are doing the same.  Check out the State Department’s Travel Alerts website to ensure you’re up on any warnings that impact your trip.  If you’re traveling by car, keep valuables in your car locked in the trunk and out of sight.  When stopping at rest stops or restaurants along the way, ensure your doors are locked and you park in a well-lit area.
  8. Stay Informed & Keep Others Informed – Use apps to monitor flights and security checkpoint wait times.  Download your airline’s app to stay informed about your flights and possible delays or changes.  Use GateGuru to monitor security checkpoints relative to your flights.  Use apps like Wase to alert you to traffic issues coming up on the road ahead.  Keep your mobile devices charged so you can communicate with your party and your travel destination while you’re en route.
  9. Use Travel Time Wisely – Bring activities to do while you wait at airports and during flights so that wait times aren’t wasted time.  Listen to music or an audiobook to get you in the holiday spirit.  Bring activities for the kids to do to keep them busy on the plane or in the car.  Think of pleasant topics you and your family can discuss while you’re together during your travel.  Get some rest.  Exercise and stretch.
  10.  Enjoy Yourself – Enjoy the precious time you have with family and friends during the holidays as it is truly a gift.  Look for reasons to laugh and love while you’re together. Be patient and keep your cool.  Do your best to keep any family drama to a minimum and make the experience fun and enjoyable for everyone.  Look back on this holiday with fond memories.