There’s no better time for jet setting than the holidays. Christmas in Rio, New Year’s Eve in Paris, a snowy, romantic getaway in the Swiss Alps – the sky’s the limit provided you have the budget to make it happen. Flying private luxury charters just adds to the experience, making your holiday sweeter and more festive from the moment you step on board.
Flying aside, holiday travel is often a bit like holiday shopping: hectic, filled with people, and potentially frustrating if you don’t plan in advance. As tourists flock in to the most popular locations, you may begin to find yourself battling other travelers rather than relaxing and enjoying your holiday away.
With the festive season just around the corner, we put together this list of holiday travel tips to help you survive (and thrive) – no matter where your holiday adventure takes you.
These holiday travel tips will help you keep you sane and ensure you have a smooth and relaxing trip during the holiday season.
Plan Well in Advance
One of the most important holiday travel tips is planning in advance. Thinking of scheduling your hotel and transportation in October? That’s probably already too late to score the best of the best. Instead, start looking into holiday vacations at least six months prior.
Also, diversify your search – don’t book the first tour or package you see. Like shopping, travel destinations are best decided on after you’ve had a chance to browse what’s available. Compile a list of your favorite deals or locations and keep narrowing it down until you find the best option! Or, see this CNN article on how to match your destination to your personality – it’s a unique approach that really does work.
Monitor Flight Weather Conditions
If you’re flying to or out of a stereotypically snowy destination, keep a close eye on airport conditions before, during, and after your flight. The weather can instantly change your travel plans, so this is one of the most necessary holiday travel tips to consider. Closures due to bad weather, slippery tarmac, or the inability to land safely can alter flight plans. Most airlines will allow you to rebook for free as soon as it’s safe to fly, but the last-minute changes in plans can put a serious crimp in your plans.
One sage passenger tip is to “like” your airline or airport on Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, or Instagram. Airlines will frequently post real-time updates on these platforms, giving you more time to make arrangements if cancellations may occur.
Commercial flights cancelled and can’t rebook because there’s no room? Switch to private charter flights instead. There’s more flexibility around when you leave and arrive, making it easier to plan around storms. And flying empty leg specials really isn’t that much more expensive than flying First Class, anyway!
Factor in Weather
Another one of the most important holiday travel tips is to factor in the weather of your destination as well. Nearly every location in the United States is prone to at least some bad weather in the winter. Even Florida and New Mexico experience higher winds, cooler temperatures, and the occasional downpour over the holiday season. It’s up to you to consider how weather will impact your trip while driving, flying, or vacationing.
Remember that even tropical or subtropical locations may experience bad weather in the winter. It won’t necessarily result in snow, of course, but you may need to bring warm clothing or even watch the weather and adjust your itinerary accordingly.
Driving? Stay Safe
If you’re planning on driving (either when you arrive or on the way) in rough winter weather, plan your route out carefully. Remember that roads in other countries, especially in back country or mountainous areas (skiing, anyone?) may be rough, difficult to traverse, or especially slippery. Safety is the most important of holiday travel tips, so make sure to take precautions. Put reliable winter tires on your vehicle or rent a car that’s equipped to handle the roads rather than that sporty Porsche.
Driving long distances on the highway? There’s a chance you could be halted in your tracks in snow squalls or storms. Don’t risk being stuck on the highway. Whether you’re renting a vehicle or driving your own, keep a small kit of emergency supplies in the trunk. Water, snacks, and any necessary medications are a must-have, as are warm blankets.
Bring Backup Batteries
Most people think to charge their devices before they head out on vacation, but when you’re traveling over the holidays, a single charge may just not be enough. There’s nothing worse than getting stuck in an airport on a layover without your tie to the outside world. You might even have to talk to other human beings for entertainment!
(Hint: Take a charter flight and this will never happen!)
What you should do is bring at least 1 to 2 extra batteries or power banks with you in case of emergencies. If your phone runs out of a charge and you’re in a place where you can’t easily plug it in, you’ll have a temporary solution to bridge the gap.
Beware Holiday Destination Influences
Considering heading into Dubai for the weekend for a bit of pre-Christmas shopping? Maybe you’re dreaming of spending New Year’s week in New York. These experiences can be amazing, but they’re also likely to be much busier at specific times throughout the season. Some travelers thrive on this chaos, while for others, it ruins the whole experience. It’s up to you decide exactly what it is you’re looking for.
Need a few examples?
- Dubai has their yearly Dubai Shopping Festival for a full 30 days between December 26 and January 26, so shops, streets, and walkways (as well as accommodations) are often frustratingly congested during the season. It’s also much harder to find decent accommodations without spending a small fortune if you book late.
- Likewise, New York is incredible on New Year’s Eve, but it’s also extremely busy around Times Square, making it nearly impossible to get a cab or find a seat in a restaurant.
- Visitors to London, England, may be unhappy to discover that many amenities (including public transportation) close completely on Christmas Day. Restaurants often hold Christmas lunches, but you’ll need to book decently far in advance if you want to attend.
- Christmas in the Bahamas sounds lovely, but it isn’t always the same as Christmas here. Most Bahamians celebrate Junkanoo, a colorful street parade, instead. If you just can’t live without traditional decorations and seasonal elements, try a vacation to one of the other islands instead.
One of the best holiday travel tips is to thoroughly research your destination during the holiday season. Every destination has its own unique quirks and elements that can make it more or less suitable for festive season travel. Dig deep and ask around to find out what Christmas is really like before you go. You might be surprised to find out that your amazing February vacation destination isn’t really fun at Christmas after all.
These holiday travel tips will help to keep you sane, and safe during your holiday travels. Traveling during the holidays takes patience and preparation, but with these holiday travel tips, you’ll survive your holiday travels!