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Guide To Surviving Holiday Travel – flying, driving or traveling with kids… it’s time to pack your bags for a holiday away!

Guide To Surviving Holiday Travel – flying, driving or travelling with kids… it’s time to pack your bags for a weekend away!

November 8, 2016

Thanksgiving and Christmas. For many of us this means feasting, four-day weekends, football games, floats, and family reunions. It means parties, presents and peace on earth. Of course, ‘tis the season to be jolly …Unless you’ve missed your flight, lost your luggage, lost your way, or find yourself in freeway gridlock!

The Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays are without a doubt the busiest times of the year for travel. Transportation delays, traffic congestion and travel mayhem hit holiday-makers from all directions. This time of year can mean a normal 3 hour road journey can suddenly take 8, and airline arrival and departures can be hugely delayed due to the sheer volume of people flying. The disasters of Thanksgiving and Christmas travel can be many and endless, potentially leaving an otherwise happy time of the year a stressful and headache inducing few days.

BUT... there’s good news: with a bit of forward planning and thinking, you can ease much of the travel stress, and transit between your home and destination without ruffling too many feathers! Here are our top tips and tricks that can help make the difference between chaos and calm during your Thanksgiving and Christmas breaks.

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Insider Tips...
Book Early & Plan Ahead :
It's never too early to start your holiday travel planning, this will save you money in the long run, and precious time during your vacation. Book early – flights will be cheaper and you can take advantage of these lower rates, you could even sign up to sale notifications with the airlines and this way get first dibs on any specials before they go public. Same with hotels; the closer you get to the travel time the higher room rates become, so book early to save some bucks!

Choose the best travel days :
Fact: the day before Thanksgiving is the busiest travel day of the year. And as many of us know – it’s utter chaos! Try to plan your vacation so that you can leave on the Monday or Tuesday, it may not be feasible for all but you will save yourself lots of time and hassle if you can swing it. As for the return journey… if you can avoid the peak travel on Sunday and head home Monday morning, the roads and airlines will have returned to normal!
Know where you are going :
Avoid being the awkward tourist who has to stand around looking in every direction, and not knowing where to tell the taxi driver to go. Print out the name and address of your hotel, and even screenshot the directions (or locate it in your smartphone map app) – you never know, your taxi driver might have no idea! Also consider printing our your hotel reservation to ensure smooth and speedy checking when you arrive.

Choose your destination and accommodation wisely :
This can make or break a trip! If you are planning a holiday vacay, it is important to consider your child’s needs, but equally important to choose a destination that is of interest to parents as well. Most places have family friendly attractions, but also check is there something there for grown ups too? Also consider things like – does your child/children still need a stroller? If so, perhaps the unpathed paths of that that campsite won’t suit and you need somewhere with proper streets and sidewalks.

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If you're flying...
Plan your Transportation To/From Airports :
We guarantee airport parking lots will be full - and at up to $50/day it is clearly not the cheapest way to go. Consider a taxi or an Uber, but keep in mind that there may be an availability issue. Airport shuttle services are available at most major airports and are a great option as they are reliable and inexpensive - as low as $8 each way - but don't forget to book ahead!

Check in ahead of time :
Check in online 24 hours before your departure and print your boarding pass; not only will this save some queuing time, it will enable you to secure your seat and sometimes even pay fees that will be higher at the airport.

Arrive early :
We know, nobody likes hanging around in an airport terminal unnecessarily.. but a peak holiday period is not the time to take risks. Remember: just like you, the masses will be travelling. There can be unpredictable backups in everything from roads, to entrance to airport, ticket and security counters, toilets, even to get a coffee! Arriving an hour earlier might ultimately save you time; you’ll avoid the bulk of the crowd who arrive at ‘normal’ time, and therefore avoid waiting in line behind slow moving folks making their once a year pilgrimage. Arriving early also reduces the risk of missing your flight due to long TSA lines, and at this time of year, if you miss your flight it will be next-to-impossible to find a seat on another!

Pack Light :
It’s just a few days... so consider: do you really need that really big suitcase and all it contains? Probably not. Additionally, more and more airlines are beginning to charge for checked bags, so if you can get away with hand luggage only, you will once again save yourself time and money. If possible, consider shipping some of your belongings ahead of time; items like diapers and bulky presents could be sent in advance, and things such as shampoo, conditioner, etc can be bought at your destination.

Packing hand-carry luggage :

This is important. Pack so that your laptop, liquids and other items can be quickly taken out of your carry-on, and make sure everything you need during transit is easily accessible. This will ensure a speedy transit through security and save you pulling out the entire contents of your bag to find that one small item that has settled at the bottom. Remember the TSA liquid rule: You are allowed to bring 1 quart-sized bag of liquids, aerosols, gels, creams and pastes limited to 3.4 ounces (100 milliliters) each.

Pack a snack (or a few) :
We all know airport prices are jacked up ridiculously. Who wants to pay $6 for a stale muffin or $15 for a sandwich? No one! Pack your own snacks, or a Subway that will not only taste a lot better, but very likely be healthier too. Snacking will also avoid you getting hangry (hungry + angry). When you’re hangry you can’t think straight, so you could take a wrong turn, or get unnecessarily irate at fellow travelers. Pack plenty of snacks to avoid a hangry rage! Tip from Brad the TSA Agent: Frozen water bottles and liquids (baby formula, etc) are allowed through TSA as long as they are frozen at the screening checkpoint.

Pack earplugs :
Short of rolling out your yoga mat, the next best way to escape the busy and stressful surrounds is to turn down the volume. And the easiest way to do that is with earplugs. Many of the newer airplanes are no longer equipped with audio and video... so baby crying or guy snoring in the plane? Earplugs!

Phones and electronic devices :
For starters; pack a multi-plug adapter – you can then use one power socket to plug in many things. Very helpful particularly if staying in a hotel room. Smartphones can also be a travelers best friend - avoid airport hassles by taking advantage of useful apps that enable you to do everything from check-in, map the airport, confirm seats and track flight status. If your flight is delayed or cancelled, rather then wait at the gate or head over to the frustrated person at the service desk… call the airline to ask for a new flight, this will be a much quicker method then queuing with everyone else. But be sure all your phones and devices are fully charged before departure, and keep your chargers handy too!

Label your luggage :
Yes it’s old school – but it works. Of course there are electronic tagging systems these days, but for extra safety and easy recognition (for when the other 200 black suitcases appear on the luggage carousel!), use a bag tag that contains your name, email or phone number, or even the phone number of your destination. To avoid running off with someone else’s bag, attach something easily identifiable to your bag, ie: colored ribbon, unique bag tag.

Baggage Claim tips:
It's a madhouse. People are in a hurry, they are tired and irritable. And because so many luggages look alike, there is a chance that someone may run off to Timbuktu with your wardrobe. To avoid a disaster, we suggest that you wait for your luggage at the point where the luggage comes out of the carousel. This way you can easily spot your luggage and ensure that no one takes it by mistake.

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If your driving...
Leave early:
Once again – plan to avoid the peak drive times. According to google; the worst traffic occurs between 3-5pm the day before the main days. Remember, there are A LOT of people trying to take the same holiday as you… which means potential gridlock and a lot of drivers, who may be stressed, tired and frustrated at all the traffic. To dodge this (and the potential road rage!), avoid peak drive times - you’ll have a lot to be thankful for it you can steer clear of the traffic chaos.

Plan your route :
Plan your route ahead of time and travel with a GPS system, smart phone or even road maps. You can also use google maps to monitor road congestion along the way. Also be sure to have a Plan B if your Plan A route proves too congested. If possible, obtain an E-ZPass for tolls, or at the very least make sure you have the right change!

Find the cheapest gas :
Sounds obvious, and it can be very easy! If you have a smartphone, download an app like GasBuddy which will show you gas prices near you.

Take a break :
You left early (didn’t you?), so you have plenty of time. If fatigue is creeping up, or road rage getting the better of you, play it safe and take a break. And you never know what hidden gems you will find if you take a side road!

Traveling with kids :
Every parent knows the sound of “are we there yet?”… just 30 minutes into the journey. To help avoid this and other ‘bored child disasters’, be prepared and keep kids entertained by bringing an entertainment pack. This could include coloring books, a movie (if tablet, portable DVD player is available), puzzles, games, music, etc. It all helps to while the hours away!

Lighten your load – rent equipment :
Did you know that many popular travel destinations have services available to rent strollers, cribs, car seats, highchairs, playpens, bikes, etc? This means you can leave behind all the bulk that takes up space in the car or results in check-in luggage. Prices can be quite reasonable, and rental ultimately means more freedom and less stress on your travels!

Find a quiet place :
Kid’s music in the car driving you mad? Earplugs. Need a nap? Earplugs. And if you really want to check out for a bit… bring an eye mask (as long as you aren’t the driver.. obviously)

Treats & Surprises :
Small presents or treats work wonders for rewarding your little one’s good behavior (and no.. it’s not a bribe!). During long trips, giving a small treat like a new coloring book or puzzle will not only keep little ones entertained, but (hopefully) keep boredom at bay and moods up!

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Travelling during the holiday season (or at any time!) need not be a mad rush of stress, chaos and frustration. With a little pre-planning and organization oodles of time, money and stress can be left behind, and you can look forward to much smoother and relaxing holiday with friends and family.

We hope that these tips help for your upcoming travels, and all of us at Destination Coupons wish you a very happy and safe holiday season!

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