It’s the most wonderful time of the year!
Keep repeating that to yourself if you’re traveling for the holidays to see family and friends.
Being prepared will make your trip merry and bright. And, in the end, even mishaps will give you memories and stories to share for years to come. The fun should start from the moment you leave on your adventure, so here are some suggestions to make that holiday wish a reality:
Book early. Fly direct or nonstop on the first or last flight of the day. Use frequent flier miles — holiday flights can be pricey. Avoiding peak travel days can also save you money — and headaches. If you’re going by car, leaving early is always a good idea to minimize traffic delays. Use an app like Waze; even if you know where you’re going, it will alert you to obstacles.
Do it yourself. Check-in for your flight online; print boarding passes in advance (or save them on your phone); don’t check luggage; be prepared in the security line. (Or drive yourself if that’s an option.)
Expect delays. Weather, security issues, miscellaneous calamities and the sheer volume of travelers are certain to create challenges. Fake it until you get there — no one wants to travel with a whining crybaby, so don’t be one. Keep a smile on your face and save the drama for the privacy of your room.
Power up. Bring chargers, power cords, power packs. Devices will be your entertainment and lifeline — especially if you’re not on time. There’s nothing worse than the kids losing power on a tablet in the airport (or the car) with no outlet in sight. I’ve lived it, and it’s not pretty.
Ship your gifts. You want to control when and how they arrive. Make sure they are marked “Do Not Open.” You can ship wrapping paper and tape, too, or put some nice gift bags in your luggage.
Book a car. Confirm your reservation before you leave home. It’s hard to stuff two adults, three kids and your things into a compact car because there was a misunderstanding about your request for a minivan. And if you’re a late arrival, have the rental brought from the lot to the door so you don’t have to walk in the darkness and/or the snow to locate your vehicle. Ask for an ice scraper if snow is expected — rental companies don’t always provide them.
Bring or ship a hostess gift. Yes, even if you’re staying with your parents. Your hosts work hard to make things nice for you, so show them a little love with something unexpected.
Staying in a hotel. Tip, tip, tip. These folks are working through the holidays to provide you a special experience — and they are missing time with family and friends to do it — so let them know you appreciate them more.
You’ve been asked to bring a dish — keep it simple. Cookies, candy, nuts and cheese straws all travel well, or the local grocery will often have packaged and cooked ready-to-serve dishes. Or, make a big impression and buy ingredients to whip up your dish in your hosts’ kitchen — with their permission, of course. Truly, the best treats are those that they don’t have at your destination. Pralines and king cake are always a hit when I bring them from Louisiana.
One more thought: Travel with baby wipes, tissue, hand sanitizer and zip lock bags. I promise you’ll find lots of uses for these items.
Wishing you the most amazing journeys this holiday season — and beyond!