I am not a fan of traveling during the holidays, especially during the winter holidays. No one can ever really predict what the weather will be like, though during the winter getting snowed in or iced down is a greater possibility for those of us coming from colder areas.
Expedia.com has already reported that holiday travel for the 2015 season is looking busier it was last year, with hotel demands to Europe (where I would want to go if I did go anywhere this holiday season) is high – which increases prices.
And though I prefer my cozy couch, by my warm fireplace, crowded only by my family, there are moments when I long for a trip to Germany’s holiday markets, or to experience Scotland’s Hogmanay.
The data shows that there are many of you who leave the comforts of your home as well to take on the challenge of travel during the holidays, so I thought it fitting to share a few tips that I have learned along the way during the times that I left my home on a festive adventure.
Condé Naste Traveler did a nice job at reminding us of the worst days to travel, though sometimes avoiding those can be difficult.
I went to Disney World in Orlando, FL with my entire family in the heat of summer at the spike of busy season. We not only survived it, we smiled through it and had a lot of fun.
Thus my tips for surviving the worst days to travel:
1) Don’t be surprised in any way that you are traveling on one of the worst days to travel. I tend to breathe in and out, and get myself in a really tranquil state of mind. I acknowledge that there will be others who will not be as chill, and who might feel a need to rush, or push through the crowds. Not everyone will be as cool, calm, and relax. If traveling with small children, these might cause others to react as if they never were children (though I believe that the brattiest adults were likely also the most nightmarish children to travel around). Yes, traveling with little ones adds an extra challenge to everything, but rarely changes anything. In fact stressed out, frustrated parents make for more anxious, unhappy kids. Sorry mom and dad, but this is one of those times you have to adult it.
2) Give yourself extra time, even if you end up spending most of it sitting around waiting for your flight. Everything will be slower, lines will be longer, and flights might be cancelled or delayed duo to a slew of possibilities. Also give yourself a buffer between vacation days and when you have to be back to work. You might want to maximize your vacation days, but choosing to travel on the worst days with no extra day (at least 1) to serve as a buffer should your flight get delayed or cancel is a huge gamble and stressors.
3) Have a back-up plan and budget to keep you comfortable during delays or cancellations, because we all know that though we may feel entitled to a meal or a hotel room if the airline cancels a flight, the truth is few if any will give you either or any of those options. Research hotels near or in the airport, as well as airport eateries in the terminal where you will be. And, before you decide to loss your grip on your aura of tranquility to yell at the airline representative, research the airline’s policy for cancelled flights. There might be little they can do. Although my next tip is on how you can influence that.
4) Don’t loose your cool with the airline representatives. I know at times it can feel like the easiest thing to do, but I have never seen it work. As a matter of fact, I have actually since “travel miracles” happen for me when I am that one guest who smiles, is calm, collected, and respectful.
5) Membership loyalty perks are a life saver. Consider loyalty airline programs that give you access to the lounge. Sign up for hotel membership programs that waive expenses such as breakfast and snacks at the VIP lounges in the hotel, or WiFi. Consider investing in Global Entry that help you skip long likes and speed up the immigration process. Granted, you have to buy it for you entire family if traveling with them (and this needs to be done far in advance before travel), but depending on how often you travel together, especially during busy season, it might be worth it.
6) How much you carry will impact your ability to be flexible. The Lonely Planet put together this really great list on how to pack for travel with kids which I suggest you read. But whether you are traveling with kids or not, just note that checking in your bags often limits you ability to be switched to another flight, should your original flight be cancelled, because attendants won’t switch you if you don’t have your bags with you. Personally, I am a bag checker and I accept all that comes with that – cost being one of them as well. The important thing is to be aware that your baggage can weigh you down in more ways than one and if you have no choice, or choose to bring a lot of it with you, then it’s important to be informed on how this can affect your travel flexibility, especially during busy season. (Here are some tips on how to prepare your kids for travel.)
Your kids will learn how to deal with the challenges of travel from you. Lead by example.
I have traveled during some of the worst and most crowded conditions, with my entire family in tow, and have managed to walk away from it intact, smile on my face.
There are a lot of things that are out of your control, but the things that are mostly in your control, such as your demeanor and mindset, can influence how you handle it and how it affects you and all those arround you.
The important thing is to remember why you are traveling this holiday season, or any season where most travelers tend to want to take a trip. Hold on to the positivity that inspired your trip in the first place and let it carry you throughout. Everyone always appreciates it more in the end.
This post is in partnership with Embassy Suites by Hilton. I am a proud ambassador of the #PrettyGreat Family Travel Hacks. To view the latest hacks, visit the #PrettyGreat Family Travel Hacks Online Community at embassytravelhacks.hilton.com. Connect with Embassy Suites on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram andPinterest using the hashtags #prettygreat and #travelhacks.