The festive season is almost upon us. People from all the world are currently making travel plans for visiting friends and family to celebrate the holidays with those nearest and dearest to them.
All these extra travelers add a huge additional burden to transport infrastructure, and delays, traffic jams, and cancellations are all too common. It’s arguably the most stressful time of year to travel, but with a few hints and tips, you can make your trip as easy and as pleasant as possible.
Expect The Worst
Traveling around the holiday period is as much of a mental challenge as it is a logistical one. While you’ll make things easier on yourself by following the tips below, if you start your journey with the right mindset, any inevitable disruptions should be a little easier on your stress levels. Expect delays, expect traffic, and expect chaos – if these things don’t occur, it’s a bonus.
Fly Earlier Or Later
Arriving at the airport when you’re ready for bed (or should already be asleep) isn’t ideal. However, it can actually be a preferable option at this time of year as roads and airports are going to be quieter.
Missing out on a good night’s sleep can often be a much more palatable option than hours of sitting in traffic, navigating long lines at airports, and being around thousands of other people who are equally as stressed out by the situation as you are. If there’s a late flight to your destination that you usually wouldn’t consider, it’s worth considering that it might be the lesser of two evils during the festive period.
The weather at this time of year is often unpredictable in many parts of the world, which can often mean delays. Even if you’re flying between two areas that have reasonably mild weather, bad weather in other parts of the world can still affect you. Airlines have pre-planned routes, and if the plane you’re meant to be flying on gets delayed somewhere else due to bad weather earlier in the day – it means that you’re probably going to be delayed too.
There’s not much you can do to avoid this. However, by flying direct you’re limiting the number of planes you’re relying on being on time. Being stuck at a connecting airport because your initial flight was delayed (or your connecting flight is delayed) is the worst case travel scenario for many people. Flying direct might cost a little more, but it’s almost certainly going to cut down your stress levels significantly.
Carry On Only
If possible, you should do all you can to fly with carry on luggage only. Many airlines will allow you to check in online and obtain a mobile boarding pass, which enables you to skip the check-in desks entirely and simply head straight for security when you reach the airport.
Benefits can be found when arriving at your destination too, you’re not going to have to wait around in an inevitably busy and chaotic luggage reclaim hall at the end of your trip (which is going to feel like a real blessing after a potentially long flight).
Mail Your Gifts
There’s a good chance you’re going to be taking gifts to your destination, but as you may already know, flying with gifts is a real pain. They may get broken by heavy-handed baggage handlers, the wrapping paper may be opened by security for inspection, and they take up additional space – which means you might not be able to travel carry on only.
Mailing your gifts to your destination may sound like more hassle than it’s worth, and if you’re traveling internationally it’s probably not worth the risk (just in case they get held up at customs). But for domestic flights, the effort it takes to go to the post office is almost always going to be less than the hassle of having to pack your bags carefully and check luggage that could otherwise be carried on instead.