26 Nov Holiday Hiatus: 3 Travel Tips for the Season
Travel can be stressful at any time of year, but it can be downright anxiety-inducing during the hectic holiday season. Highways, airports, and train stations alike are packed with people trying to get to Grandma’s house, a warm-weather destination, or to a holiday hotspot that draws tourists with tradition.
Last year, AAA predicted 48.7 million Americans would take a trip of 50 miles or more during the Thanksgiving holiday season and more than 103 million Americans would take a trip during the year-end holidays.
In Europe the situation is quite similar: every country experience peak time for holidays and they also tend to be the busiest time for European air traffic.
And, while many of those journeys ended with visits to friends and family, others were solo trips by travelers taking advantage of holiday vacation days or getaways with a friend or significant other to celebrate the season somewhere new.
No matter what your destination, there are ways to orchestrate a relaxing vacation during the holiday season. So if you’re planning to hit the highways, railways, or skies, try these 3 travel tips for a stress-free holiday hiatus.
1. Don’t feel obligated to visit family
For some, holidays are an ideal opportunity to take a well-deserved vacation without a turkey or trimmed tree in sight. If you want to celebrate a non-traditional holiday, perhaps a trip with a close friend or family member to a sun-drenched destination. By example (a random one 😉 ) Monferrato wine-growing area of Northern Italy could become an annual adult indulgence.
Or maybe you want to celebrate the season just with your own spouse and kids rather than with the extended clan one year. According to CNN, many destinations offer deals and relatively deserted beaches and other attractions during the holidays. After all, so many other travelers are spending their time and money visiting family, leaving you to enjoy sun, sand, or snow-capped mountains without the crowds. Flights to vacation destinations could also be less crowded as others opt for traditional trips to see relatives.
Considering you and many of your neighbors will be traveling during the holidays, pay particular attention to home security before you lock up and leave. For instance, if you have a security alarm, entrust your code with someone close and ask them to keep an eye on your house. And ask that same friend to pick up any mail or newspapers that might clue people in that you’re not around.
You can always bring back a bottle of wine from your travels as a token of thanks.
2. Avoid the busiest travel days
If you are planning to visit friends or family for the holidays, timing your travel can help make the experience less stressful. For instance, the 3-5 days before a major holiday are typically the biggest travel days of the year. So leaving a few days earlier, or even delaying your outbound flight until the holiday starts, can save you time and travel costs. Similarly, avoiding the airport on the two or three days leading up to Christmas can save savvy travelers stress and cash.
Simple steps such as mailing holiday gifts instead of traveling with them in tow can also make even the most hectic holiday travel day a little easier for everyone involved. And, if you flying with gifts, consider leaving them unwrapped or opting for gift bags to eliminate any chance Transportation Security Administration staff will ruin your pretty packages if they need to be searched.
Along those same lines, researching your chosen airline’s carry on rules can save you time and money by helping you avoid having to check an oversized bag. And, if you do check bags, make sure to mark them in a distinctive way so they’ll be easier to spot on the crowded carousel.
3. Take time to relax
Whether you’re visiting family or a dream destination abroad, it can be tempting to pack every day with activities and adventures. But, unless you want to go back to work more stressed out that when you left, you should plan pursuits focused on rest and revitalization. Take time out to exercise and watch what you eat while allowing for the occasional treat. Book a massage between casual dinners. Even a brief break from the seasonal schedule will help you feel rejuvenated well into the new year.
A holiday during the holidays can be just the tonic for helping cast off the stresses of everyday life. So, if your holiday plans include travel, take these tips along to ensure a stress-free season that will have you eagerly anticipating next year’s adventures.
Henry Moore is a self-described foodie and travel junkie. He’s always looking for new foods and new places to explore.
You can read more from Henry at fitwelltraveler.com.
Written by Henry Moore | Photography courtesy of Silvano Ghirardo, Errol on Unsplash and Margo Brodowicz on Unsplash