Financial Services Blog

Tips for Stress-Free Travel This Holiday Season

It’s that time of year again–the dreaded holiday travel season. And while overcrowded airports, train stations, and roads, combined with the possibility of inclement weather, can be a recipe for disaster, there are some steps you can take to make traveling this holiday season a bit easier.

Pre-trip planning

Travel “off-peak.” There will always be certain days and/or times that are busier than others during the holiday season. As a result, you may want to avoid peak travel times, such as the day before Thanksgiving. By adjusting your holiday travel schedule by just one day or even a few hours, you might face fewer crowds and decrease your travel time.

Consider an alternate route. If you are traveling by car, consider taking a longer, less-traveled scenic route to circumvent areas where traffic is usually heaviest. If you are flying, avoid travel hubs with the most air traffic. Instead, try searching nearby, smaller airports to see whether they offer flights to your destination. Smaller airports may offer cheaper flights and often have fewer delays and less traffic to and from the airport. You can also try researching whether your airline or flight is usually on time or late by checking its on-time performance.

Check in or print out boarding passes/tickets beforehand. Today, many airlines and train companies have streamlined the boarding/ticketing process. If you’re flying, you may be able to select your seats and complete the check-in process at home. If you’re traveling by train, consider purchasing your tickets online and printing your ticket vouchers before arriving at the station.

suitcaseOn the day of travel

Travel lightly. Most airlines and trains have restrictions on the number of carry-on or check-in luggage passengers can bring. As a result, only bring necessities and try to avoid overpacking for your trip. In addition, consider ordering any holiday gifts online and mailing them ahead of time instead of bringing them with you.

Leave early. Whether you are heading to the airport or train station or making the trip by car, avoid the long lines and traffic by leaving as early as possible on your scheduled day of travel. If you’re worried about waiting around the airport or train station for too long, bring your laptop or extra reading material to keep yourself occupied.

Have a plan B. Whether it’s changing your travel route to avoid traffic congestion or dealing with a flight delay and missed connection, you’ll want to be prepared to make adjustments to your travel plan. Having an alternative plan in place can make it easier to deal with any travel glitches that may arise when you travel.

Keep essential items on hand. Keep copies of your travel itinerary, necessary photo identification (e.g., driver’s license, passport), and medications on your person in case your luggage is lost or delayed while en route to your destination. You’ll also want to make sure that you have plenty of snacks and beverages to help tide you over if you are stuck in traffic or your train or flight is delayed. Make sure that your electronic devices (e.g., laptop, phone, e-reader) are fully charged and bring chargers so you can plug in, if necessary, at the airport or train station. And if you are traveling with kids, be sure to bring along plenty of toys/games to keep them occupied.

Stay connected. Whether it’s real-time traffic updates or information on flight or train departures and arrivals, there are numerous mobile apps that can help make travel more efficient. Traveling by air? Check with your airline to see if you can sign up for flight status updates that go directly to your phone. If you’re heading on a road trip, check with each state’s highway authority to see which ones provide mobile traffic updates.

Be prepared for the worst. It’s important to remember that even the most well-thought out travel plans may not proceed without a hitch. A nasty nor’easter, air-traffic controller strike, or even just bad luck could disrupt your travel plans. The key is to stay calm and be prepared for the inevitable travel mishap. In the end, you will eventually reach your destination and celebrate the holiday season with family and friends.

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