If you plan to take a cross-country trip around a holiday season with your family, such as Thanksgiving for Christmas, it’s important to note that travel during these times can be a little bit trickier. Because they are popular times for travel, you’ll want to be sure to have all of your ducks in a row ahead of time. To save you both time and money, here are some tips and tools you can utilize to help you manage planning a trip for the holidays.
Holiday Season Travel Tips
Pick Your Travel Days During The Week
Everyone is going to travel on weekends or when the holidays actually start, like for instance the day before Thanksgiving will be PACKED in airports. You’re better off traveling either before or after those peak days, like if you can leave the Monday or Tuesday of Thanksgiving week. Typically mid-week days are better for traveling and you can also save some money, too.
Another suggestion here is to monitor flights. A lot of available online booking sites offer to check for prices on your destination, so if you already have your dates of travel you can make an alert to your email on price changes and keep an eye on the flights and the costs so you can see easily when the prices for your journey are dropping, and you know it’s time to buy. You can also compare one-way ticket prices because sometimes those could also be cheaper.
Renewal / Acquisition Of Your Travel Visa and/or Passport
If your identification for international travel is out-of-date or you need to get a new travel visa or passport for a family member for your trip, DO NOT WAIT. The process is long, and it can take weeks, even months to get everything updated or obtained. However, if you are pressed for time and are struggling with getting your visa, there are ways to expedite appointments in the U.S. for a travel visa. Just be sure that you plan ahead of time so that you don’t miss out and get all of your proper IDs with enough time before your trip, in case there are any delays or hiccups in receiving them.
Travel at Christmastime: Don’t Wrap Your Gifts
The TSA has the right to inspect and unwrap anything you pack in your suitcase, so if you think you’re being smart by wrapping your gifts ahead of time, think again. You’re better off just waiting until you arrive to do any wrapping. If you don’t want to bring the wrapping paper because it’s too big or you don’t have room, consider going to some local shops and finding cute ribbons and bags to wrap everything for the holiday.
If you really want to wrap them ahead of time at home before you leave, then it would be smart to ship them to your destination (maybe just a few days ahead of time), so that they will get there after your arrival. This saves the hassle of trying to bring large boxes on your flight too and is a good idea so you don’t have to pay extra for the luggage.
Check For Fun Stops On Your Way
Travel can be crazy around the holidays, even in another country. If you rent a car and plan to drive long distances, be sure to map things out ahead of time and create some fun with stops at destinations along the way. This will not only break up the stress of a long journey but also keep the family entertained without getting bored in the car.
Another method of breaking up a long trip is if it’s going to take many hours, consider stopping at a Bed & Breakfast or staying in a cool Castle overnight. This way you can take your time, explore a new place and create some fun memories along the way. To save money check out Gas Buddy, which not only gives you the cheapest places to stop for gas but also which ones have the cleanest bathrooms.
Another place you can check out when you reach your destination is the embassy. Sometimes if certain countries don’t have celebrations for the holidays, the embassy sometimes organizes events for those foreigners living in the city. They can even provide some good holiday specials at places if the country does celebrate also.
Prepare Yourself: There Will Be Delays
Please remember that this is important when you travel, and try to keep it in mind at all times so you don’t get too stressed. Travel is high this time of the year for people, so it is a good idea to exercise some patience. It will be difficult and you may experience delays at times with flights or traffic. Don’t let those things that push you back ruin the holiday adventure. Make the most of what you have. You can create a new tradition with your family doing something different if you get stuck in a different city overnight due to a flight delay, or possibly take a different and scenic route that may extend your journey but make it less stressful. You don’t have to plan everything out, give yourself some extra days to enjoy a new location.
Check The Weather
One last thing you should be sure to do is to check the weather where you are going. You might even want to make sure to purchase some travel insurance ahead of time, in case there is a threat of a natural disaster or a tropical storm and you have to leave the country.
If you plan on attending anything outside or doing an excursion of some kind that is outdoors, this is another reason to be sure to look at what the weather is calling for. For instance, if you plan on skiing in the Swiss Alps, you wouldn’t want to plan to go out on a day where it’s calling for negative 30 degrees!
These tips should help guide you through the holiday season with better expectations for foreign country travel. Any and all preparation that you take to ensure a safe, exciting and fun trip will be helpful to you and your family.