Image of a group of travelers walking through an airport. Hopefully after seeing our tips for holiday travel.

Tips for Holiday Travel

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles Across a Winter Wonderland

Road trips, flights, cross-country train rides, however you’re traveling this holiday season, you’ll need a game plan. From packing to preparing your mindset, here are some tips for holiday travel.

Plan and Book Early

The best way to take your mind off something is to get it done. The earlier you lock in your travel plans, the sooner you can start looking forward to them. Most experts recommend buying domestic flights 3 months in advance for holiday travel. For international travel, that recommendation pushes you out six months. Remember that airlines and travel agencies often release their holiday schedules and pricing months in advance. That’s as good a sign as you’re going to get in this world.

Finally, if you’re driving or riding, it is always better to get your rental car or train ticket early to secure your spot during the holidays. IYour local rental location will likely be low/out of cars, and trains get packed faster than you might think.

Be Flexible with Travel Dates

A good rule of thumb is if you can travel one day outside peak times, do it. If everyone is on the road Christmas Eve, be on the road the day before. Consider ways you can be strategic with your PTO to keep you out of major traffic, overcrowded trains, or expensive holiday flights.

One of the often overlooked tips for holiday travel has more to do with quality time. If you’re more concerned with not getting enough time with loved ones, schedule more time before or after the holiday to hang out and really enjoy each other’s company. For instance, you could travel Friday (December 29th) after work to a relative’s house, enjoy ringing in the new year, take off the 2nd and 3rd of January and travel back in peace without the crowds or traffic.

Consider Alternative Airports

If you have to fly, make sure you’re aware of all your options. See if your destination city has multiple airports and look into one of the smaller ones. Depending on your funds, you may even want to consider a wider radius and include airports further from your destination. Looking for a less crowded experience with shorter lines, and cheaper parking? This may be the ticket for you.

Pack Well and Consider Going Carry-on Only

GIF of Michelle from Full House grabbing an entire drawer full of clothes to put in her tiny little suitcase. Clearly, no one provided her with our tips for holiday travel.

I know, I know, this is a hard one. This is more for the flyers and the train riders, but packing light for any trip has its advantages. For starters, you generally have less to worry about and less you may forget. Two, it’s less to lug around. If you’re flying, it can actually help you cut cost AND save time because you don’t have to worry about checking any baggage. I mean, do you really want to deal with holiday travel and dragging half your bedroom with you?

Stay in the Loop

One of the other largely overlooked tips for holiday travel is being informed. Whatever your mode of transportation, download the company’s app. This will keep you informed on any changes, delays, etc. so you can make adjustments as necessary. No one wants to rush to the train station only to find out the terminal has been changed. It. . .it’s just not a fun time.

Also, keep an eye on the weather. Not only can this have an impact on public transportation, but it helps to be mentally prepared if you’re driving and you’re headed into a bad storm. Knowing ahead of time gives you the option to possibly add a pit stop to your travels and ride out the rain, sleet, hail, or snow. It’s not like you’re the post office. You don’t have to deal with all that.

Finally, make sure you take a look at the traffic before you hit the road. If your normal way is backed up, your GPS may help you find an alternative route that’s a little less crowded. Actually, on that note. . .

Give Yourself Extra Time

While most people enjoy a good thriller or suspense flick, you don’t want that kind of tension in your travel life. Consider highways, parkways, and other main roads will be busier than normal and give yourself an extra hour or so to get to where you’re going. Usually show up to the airport an hour before departure? With record travel, allowing for more time to get through security will give you more peace of mind. Starting or ending your trip with a stress-filled, road ragey drive, or sprinting through an airport just isn’t a good look.

Stay Cool, Calm, and Collected

When it comes to tips for holiday travel, this may be the golden rule. Remember the reason for the season while you’re out there. Try to give not only yourself a little grace, but those around you as well. We all just want to get to where we’re going, and a shouting match with a crew member on a plane or train is not going to get you there faster or happier.

Also, try to be considerate of what other travelers may be going through. You never know what they’re going through or what might be on the other side of their trip, so try not to take things so personally while you’re out there.

The Wrap Up

It can be hectic out there and there may be a lot of things out of your control, but never forget why you’re out there to begin with. Look forward to the love, the arguments, the food, the headaches, and everything in between. Enjoy every minute of it, there and back.

Headshot picture of the writer of this article, Kenneth Medford III, with a muted black and white filter.
Kenneth Medford III

Writer, rhymer, gamer: the easiest way to define the man known as Kenneth Medford. I’m a simple man who loves to learn and loves to help and I wander the digital world trying to find ways to sate my hunger for both. Basically, I’m Galactus but helpful.

Check out my other work here or reach out to me on LinkedIn.

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